What's the Truth About Gangs?
Goal: To initially acquaint students with the possibility that there could be overwhelming hazards involved with street gang membership.
Materials: Marker board, markers, one copy for each student of "Evaluate These Groups" List.
1. _ Inform the students that they will be taking a look at whether groups are good or bad. (Do not indicate that gangs will be the intended focus.)
_ Inform the class that they will be developing a way to evaluate groups. Distribute the "Evaluate the Group" form and allow the members to review and critique each group shown. Synthesize the comments into generic statements and write the negative comments and positive comments in two columns on the board. Elicit comments such as "I don't like the Army because they take away your freedom". (Write on the board under "Negatives").
2. _ Inform the students that they will be editing the Negatives and Positives columns to create a list to evaluate groups. Remove all of the duplicate items from each column on the board, then ask the group to confirm that the list accurately reflects their beliefs about what makes good and bad groups. The list could look like the sample shown below; the class can assign points to each item to give a final score to each group they rate with their evaluation device. Adjust the list as necessary to gain consensus from the whole group especially the youth at risk of gang involvement.
_ Assist the group to test out the accuracy of the evaluation list by rating several groups and determining if the measure seems to reflect whether each group raises serious concerns. Next, ask the students to evaluate gangs using the evaluation tool they have developed, and assist them to see that by their own standards, there are many serious concerns that relate to gangs.
3. _ Indicate that the class will be investigating the issue of street gangs. Without you taking a stance on the positive or negative nature of gangs, allow the students to vent their feelings about gangs, including the positives they may identify. Note that students are sincere in their comments and are entitled to express their views, but observe to the class that these views conflict with the group evaluation tool they created and tested. Ask the students to explain this discrepancy, and to indicate why characteristics that are offensive when done by other groups, may be tolerated when done by gangs.
_ Assist the class to determine that there are serious problems associated with gang involvement despite the fact that positive aspects of membership may be reported by gang members. Aid the class to identify that many gang members prefer to overlook or minimize problems, or become belligerent or resistant to objectively examining the real risks of gang involvement.
4. _ Review the major points of this lesson:
! Gangs may have serious drawbacks for members and others.
! Gang members may tolerate behaviors by their gang members that they wouldn't tolerate from members of other groups.
! Gangs may pose risks for gang members that the members may prefer to deny or not think about.
! Objectively examining the reality of group membership is critical, even for gangs.
EVALUATE THESE GROUPS