ANYONE concerned about the potential for increased gang-like activity and violence in Luzerne County in the years ahead should consider this truism: There's safety in numbers.
Fortunately, plenty of area residents – from law enforcement professionals to Crime Watch participants to school staffers to Guardian Angels on volunteer patrol – already are keenly aware of what's happening in Northeastern Pennsylvania's neighborhoods, what to watch out for and how you can assist them in gang-prevention efforts, especially those aimed at the area's most susceptible youths.
Join them, if only by becoming more aware of the situation and the best strategies for steering school-age boys and girls away from this dead-end choice.
A public event called "Combating Gang Activity in Our School Districts" is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at King's College in Wilkes-Barre. An agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Behavioral Science Unit will be the featured presenter. A panel discussion also is planned.
Due to a much-talked-about attack on a Wilkes-Barre street earlier this month, you can expect a sizable audience at tomorrow's event, which is sponsored jointly by U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, and state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township.
A teenage boy's hand was maimed in the incident that occurred after school hours near GAR High School in Wilkes-Barre. Racial tensions, perhaps fueled by allegiance to a gang or "wannabe" gang, are believed to have sparked the violent episode.
Hopefully, calmer heads will prevail across the Wyoming Valley, rather than allowing gut emotions and stereotypes to rule the day. Education is key.
Get the facts from organizations such as The East Coast Gang Investigator's Association ( www.gripe4rkids.org), the National Gang Center ( www.nationalgangcenter.gov) and the Center for Safe Schools ( www.safeschools.info).
After looking at these resources and talking to like-minded residents who want to foster a safe environment in Luzerne County, this much should become perfectly clear to you: You are not alone.
Public meeting: "Combating Gang Activity in Our School Districts"
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Burke Auditorium in the McGowan School of Business at King's College, Wilkes-Barre