May 31, 2011 2 Comments
Sunnyside needs to have a meaningful conversation about both problems and solutions. By Sunnyside, I mean everyone in the community. By community, I mean Sunnyside, Outlook, Mabton, and other nearby areas that may or may not be in the city limits. By everyone, I mean all of us.
What I am about to suggest can be implemented in a multitude of ways, by any number of churches and organizations. Yes, I mentioned churches, and I will come back to that in a moment.
In a recent post, I mentioned some things I have heard in the community about why we have a gang problem that is so disruptive to our quality of life in Sunnyside. The series of “I blame” statements have really ticked off some people, that would just rather not have that kind of conversation. You know the type of person I am talking about here, they might be a family member saying something like:
“It’s really not proper for us to discuss your uncle’s alcohol problem.”
They will say this to you after your critical statement, immediately following your uncle’s arrest for DUI for the eighth time.
Much like families and individuals need to admit when alcoholism is a problem, we as a community need to come together to find solutions to our gang problem. Ignoring the issue, or not wanting to discuss it will not help the situation.
“Blaming” people or organizations will not solve the problem, but we need to understand different perspectives to help us all work together. All of the “blame” statements I listed, have been things people have said to me since I moved here. There are more that I did not list, and I am sure you have heard enough to fill entire books yourself.
I met an acquaintance of mine for coffee recently, and he shared with me an idea for churches to implement a mentoring program to help with youth. He said that he believes the median age of Sunnyside residents is 25. This means we need to engage this youthful population in more substantial ways than we are doing now.
Personally, I like his idea. I am aware of some conversation taking place between the City Manager and Council Members about the feasibility of starting Boys and Girls Clubs here, or having Big Brothers Big Sisters programs in Sunnyside.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters is proven by independent research to improve children’s odds for succeeding in school, behaving nonviolently, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and breaking negative cycles.” Source: Big Brothers Big Sisters
I am in favor of all of these types of approaches.
There is no silver bullet that will solve what is a deeply entrenched problem that exists in a culture that has allowed it to grow.
News coverage of late has reported on suppression plan ideas from the Sunnyside Police Department. These are critical in eliminating the really bad offenders from the City. However, there is more that will need to be done by others outside of the law enforcement community.
If mentoring programs can help some of our youth, I am all for them. Let’s continue that conversation in Sunnyside. Let’s talk about some concrete steps we can take to stop the violence, while engaging those that are in the age group where they are most susceptible to falling into the destructive lifestyle of a gang member.
This should not be something we put off on government, although local government may be in a position to help facilitate some of the efforts. We need churches to engage the youth directly, and in a meaningful way. We need businesses and individuals to support these efforts, financially, and through volunteering.
To defeat the enemy, we need the entire community involved. The police department’s gang elimination strategy recognizes that other agencies and organizations need to help in this effort.
Let’s all have a meaningful conversation about it. We can not ignore the problem, and expect things to improve.
- 1 teen killed, 1 wounded in Sunnyside drive-by (thenewstribune.com)
- Speakers At Republican Club Address Bird Bombs and Gangs (blogsunnyside.com)