Saskatoon community group concerned with at-risk youth
Don Meikle said he’s noticed a change with at-risk kids who use his youth centre in downtown Saskatoon.
The executive director of EGADZ said there is a lack of options to keep teens busy.
“We’re not doing a really good job of competing for that attention or we’re not competing for that acceptance. We don’t accept these kids as much as gang members accept (them). There are people that are recruiting these kids to get in trouble,” he said on Friday.
These concerns are raised following 11 teens being arrested and charged after a Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) raid earlier this week.
The teens, some as young as 13 and 14, and three adults are facing more than 470 drug and weapons charges.
“These young kids on the street, there’s really not a lot of supports for them like after hours and late nights,” Meikle added.
Meikle said a unified effort from community organizations has to be made in order to help youth avoid being drawn into gangs.
“We can’t give up on these kids. We can’t just put them in jail because it’s not going to do anything. It makes it worse,” he said.
SPS is one organization that has seen its involvement in schools grow.
“We’re doing as much as we can to be involved at the elementary school level and to be involved not only with the students but their families because it extends to the home in many cases,” SPS public affairs director Alyson Edwards told Global News.
She added the students who participate in the programs tend to be fairly involved and police have seen a difference in their attitudes.
The teens facing the drug and weapons charges were back in court on Friday.
Five of them have been released on bail with several conditions including having no contact with gang members or their co-accused and not to wear any gang paraphernalia.
Police documents link the group to the Hustle Crew Street Gang.
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