TOPEKA – (October 9, 2015) – For the first time, Kansas will observe Gang Awareness Week next week, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today.
Schmidt and Kansas Education Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson joined in requesting the designation, recognizing the need for support from parents, educators, young people and communities to help prevent youth from joining gangs and to report gang activity to law enforcement. Gov. Sam Brownback issued a proclamation declaring October 12 through 16 as Gang Awareness Week.
The Gang Free Kansas partners have created and distributed toolkits for school administrators, teachers, parents and students which provide information, discussion topics, warning signs and other resources to help prevent gang involvement. The effort is targeted toward helping the Kansas education community become more aware of gang prevention strategies and resources available. As part of this initiative, law enforcement experts are available to provide education and awareness training to schools, community groups and the general public.
“We need the support of parents, educators, young people and communities to help prevent youth from joining gangs and to report gang activity to law enforcement,” Schmidt said. “Schools play a vital role in this effort to keep our students safe and far removed from the tragic consequences of gang violence.”
Watson joined Schmidt in recognizing the importance of preventing youth from joining gangs.
“Too many of our young people, even as young as elementary school, turn to gangs hoping to find a sense of belonging, but lack the emotional maturity to understand the reality of that decision,” Watson said. “Keeping kids in school, surrounding them with strong role models and keeping them engaged in healthy activities are ways we can help protect our children. This isn’t a parent problem. This isn’t a school problem. This isn’t a community problem. It’s our problem, and it requires all of us to work together.”
Gang Free Kansas is an educational initiative led by the attorney general’s office and developed in cooperation with law enforcement throughout the state. It is based on the Gang Free Wichita program led by the Wichita Crime Commission. The program includes educational materials for local law enforcement officials to use in presentations to community groups and a website for the public to learn more about how to spot and report gang activity. Kansans can learn more about the Gang Free Kansas initiative by visiting the website at www.GangFreeKansas.org.