Evidence shows Calgary youth are guarding against gang recruitment

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WATCH ABOVE: A Calgary youth education program geared towards school aged children is in the process of calculating results from a recent survey. Here's Jill Croteau with the early findings about gang recruitment – Jan 25, 2017

There is proof that what a unique Calgary police educational exhibit is showing school-aged kids is resonating.  YouthLink is an interpretive centre designed to teach children about the pitfalls of gangs and how recruitment can take place.

The executive director of YouthLink said a survey of the students who walked through the exhibit revealed many of them are learning about a lifestyle they didn’t know much about.

“Before they come here, some of the kids think gangs live in Soprano-like mansions and wear gold chains,” Tara Robinson said.

“What they learn is gang members grow up here and they target this age of kid to be in their gang.”

So far, the early findings of the surveys show the children are profoundly impacted by the exhibit – more so than any others in the centre.

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“We were surprised at how naive students are about gangs in Calgary,” Robinson said.

“We are surprised this is the number one exhibit here in YouthLink with the greatest increase in knowledge,” she added.

“Seventy-five per cent don’t think it’s a problem but when they come in here they’re shocked about what happens.”

Aside from the data, the group has other examples that what it’s doing has influenced kids’ decision-making when faced with being groomed for potential gang involvement.

“It was a Grade 5 student being recruited but he identified what was happening and came for help,” Robinson said. “We know if they have the right information that’s their best line of defence.”

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