In 2008, approximately 774,000 gang members and 27,900 gangs were active in the United States. Debra Goldentyer in her book Street Violence quotes “two out of three high school students said that they knew how to find a handgun if they wanted one.” Gangs are responsible for some crimes in neighborhoods such as robbery, rape, and destruction of property. Gang wars frequently kill both gang members and innocent people.
Larger gangs are structured like an organization with leaders and other officers or generals who oversee the gang members and the daily activities of the gang. Gang members in the lower ranks will do heinous crimes to be promoted in the gang. One common rule of gangs is that the members cannot say “no” to the leader and any punishment is usually violent. New members are initiated into the gang by carrying out various crimes over a period of time under the supervision of an officer or his right hand man. Gangs are usually formed around ethnic groups however some gangs are mixed-race gangs; most gangs encourage its members to hate people who are different from them even if these persons are not in a gang.
Frequently, law enforcement officers have to deal with fights among rival gangs, drug trafficking, extortions of businesses and home invasions. Gangs will use younger children to be “look-outs” while they are selling drugs or carry guns in their school bags to be delivered to other gang members. They will also sell drugs to teens at school; the younger the teen starts using drugs the better it is for the gang who sees the teen as a “regular customer” contributing to their profits. Some teens may be recruited to help in the distribution of drugs inside the school. Teens who join gangs may not commit gruesome crimes at first but the longer they stay, the higher the expectation of the crime they are required to commit. In some States, the punishment for crimes committed by a gang member is more severe than those committed by a regular citizen. A teen who commits a robbery who is not a part of a gang may only be sentenced to 2 years in juvenile prison while a teen committing the same crime who is a gang member may be sentenced to 5 years in a juvenile facility.
Teen Challenge Columbus Girl’s Academy
The Teen Challenge Columbus Girl’s Academy operates a very structured environment where there is a balance of academics, spirituality, hard work, fun and fellowship. We have a 200 acre property with a huge lake and boating house, a swimming pool, basketball court, softball and baseball fields and a prayer trail.
We approach each teen as a beautiful creation from God who has exalted value, exalted worth and exalted dignity. We believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit, your child can learn new skills such as reconciliatory behavior to reach a compromise when they disagree and to control rage. We provide the most conducive environment for the work of the Holy Spirit to heal emotional trauma while also recognizing that God has given us skilled persons in areas of expertise to help in the healing process. Parents will also need to learn new skills to keep violence out of their homes therefore we work with our families through monthly visits and training to deal with the parent-child relationship. We encourage parents and family members to participate in family therapy as we seek to help the teenage girl to wholeness.
Our residential program is administered by qualified staff who work twenty four hours each day to promote and support the emotional well being of every student. We offer accredited classroom work where students are able to graduate with their high school diploma or have their credits transferred back to their school. The Teen Challenge Columbus Girl’s Academy has a balanced combination of academics, spirituality, athletics, therapy, social and life skills.