hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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March 21, 2013

Let's give gangs a hefty boot!

(Continued)

My recommendation — and it’s one that bears scrutiny because I’ve mentioned it before — carries some logic. The fact we have gangs raising havoc is because they are bored and out for thrills. It’s their way of keeping themselves “entertained,” as irrational as that may sound.

Children who become so vulnerable as to succumb to peer pressure must be directed toward a more peaceful path.

At a young age, they should be introduced to a positive environment at places like the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA. They should be given projects to organize and roles to manifest.

In schools, they should be welcomed into sports. If a child is not talented enough to make a varsity team, do NOT turn them away. Create a wholesome intramural environment. In the long run, thanks to such positive involvement, they will join a gang that’s productive and worthwhile.

We have such a treasure at the Citizens Center. In my opinion, it’s being underutilized. After the senior citizens leave the place at 4 p.m., why not turn it into a viable teen center — an offshoot of what you may find at the YMCA, but on a greater scale?

Take that $98K and use it more efficiently. Hire a part-time director, Tap the volunteer potential of this community and get adults in there who will train our teenagers in sex education and anti-violence, and provide homework help.

Put the center to good use on weekends with socials and conferences. Keep our kids off the streets and mobilize their energy toward better ground.

It’s like the old saying, “An idle mind leads to an idle body, which leads to trouble.”

Get your kid involved in the Scouting movement. We have a fine council in this city — people should take the time to discover this asset. Let the kids climb the Scouting ladder by earning badges of merit and service.

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