I just read a very interesting article on how normal gang prevention efforts may not work on Asian kids.
Apparently, it is hard for law enforcement to create gang prevention programs for Asians because the usual factors that are associated with gang behavior–broken homes, lack of economic opportunities and gaps in education, including high illiteracy and drop-out rates–don’t necessarily apply to Asian gangs.
So why exactly do some of these Asian kids join gangs?
According one of the detectives, some Hmong gangs formed for protection because they were getting bullied at school, then they gradually evolved into criminal enterprises.
Hmong gangs also presented the most serious complications because of the stark cultural differences between kids and parents.
The article went on to say how this is a complication because then the parents don’t know the clues to look for in order to determine whether their children are involved in gangs.
But I think it missed a crucial point of cultural alienation that a lot of young Asian kids often feel at school: For a lot of Asian Americans who live with parents who are fairly unassimilated with American culture, their home and school lives often represent conflicting values and cause confusion for them as to what they value more.
Add to that the bullying that is a part of schooling these days–and especially for ethnic kids in largely white populated areas–kids’ self-esteem can plummet greatly.
Some kids will turn the anger within, and some will lash out with violence.
So I think the problem with Asian gangs isn’t that their parents can’t spot their kids’ gang activity. Rather, it is a problem of building a stronger self and giving them the ability to aspire to something beyond their school day existence.
The problem with Asian gangs is that we fail to give the children a chance to dream and to work for those dreams. Somehow, the ability to dream gets lost amidst the noise of cultural conflicts and group suppression.
What do you guys think? How can we help prevent Asian gang activity?