Today’s episode discusses the ongoing trauma of gang involvement, specifically the lasting impact on those who joined as minors. According to a National Youth Gang Survey, two out of every five active gang members are juveniles, and therefore particularly vulnerable to the pressures and traumas associated with gang affiliation and community violence.
As this relates to gangs, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network explains, “while traumatic stress is certainly not the sole cause for gang involvement and delinquency, it can increase a youth’s vulnerability to a gang’s appeal. Gangs can offer a sense of safety, control and structure often missing in the lives of traumatized youth”. Gangs offer traumatized youth an opportunity to experience affirmation, often for the first time. These are children who have not experienced a family, community or society that is able to protect and provide for them, to offer them a vision of a positive future. The gang then steps in to fill that role.
This week Tricia speaks with Luis Javier Rodriguez, a renowned poet, novelist, journalist and community activist. He was named the 2014 Los Angeles Poet Laureate by Mayor Eric Garcetti and is perhaps best known for his memoir Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in LA, for which he received the Carl Sandburg Literary Award. Luis is also the founder of the Tia Chucha Press and Tia Chucha Cultural Center.
In My Backyard is brought to you by The Guidance Center, a children’s mental health agency in Long Beach, CA. In My Backyard is produced by Tricia Costales and Matthew Murray. Thank you to Jay Vincent B for original music. All other music licensed through SoundStripe. Thank you to our listeners and supporters.
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