Oct 26, 2009 10:26 PM by David Ortiviz

Gang expert urges parents to be proactive

A man who runs the oldest gang prevention program in the state says communities need to change the mindset of young people to stop gang violence from growing. "We have kids in the elementary level that feel this is the trend, this is something to be cool to be apart of," said Rev. Leon Kelly, Executive Director of the Open Door Youth Gang Alternative Program in Denver.

On Monday, Rev. Kelly spoke to a crowd of 50 or more people at a seminar at the Rawlings Library in Pueblo.

Rev. Kelly urged parents to be proactive instead of reactive when talking to their kids on the issue of gangs. "As they notice little simple things, that is out of the norm of their sons and daughters, seek help and suggestion and advice, don't wait until certain tragedies happen" said Rev. Kelly.

Rev. Kelly says one way to stop your child from joining a gang is to get them involved in after school activities. "That is vital, you look at the type of crime that is being committed during that block of time--those kids need to be involved in something that is structured," said Rev. Kelly.

According to the Pueblo Police Department there are between 700 to 1,100 gang members in Pueblo at any given time.

Monday's gang seminar was organized by Lucretia Robinson, a Department of Corrections employee who is also running for Pueblo City Council.


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