KCBS In Depth: Treating Gang Activity As A Social Illness

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(CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – It seems as if every major city in the Bay Area has been dealing with some level of gang activity and youth violence.

That’s why one San Francisco community activist says it’s time to address the problem as if it’s a social illness in need of a cure. He believes he has the right prescription for the job.

“We approach it from health, they understand health and we ask them very simply do they want to stay alive and free, they say yes, we start applying the prescription,” summed up Dr. Joe Marshall, cofounder and Executive Director of the Omega Boys Club of San Francisco, an organization dedicated to putting at-risk kids on the path to success.

Riding the wave of his health analogy, Marshall writes a “prescription” that includes weekly interactions – “inoculations,” he calls them – to keep kids protected from the pitfalls that surround them.

“It really comes down to influence,” he opined. “You know, there are some people who grow up in those neighborhoods who don’t become gang members. So, we just help them navigate through all of the family, all of the peer pressure, through all the stuff that goes on in the neighborhood.”

KCBS In Depth: Dr. Joe Marshall talks to KCBS

Marshall, who is concurrently serving as Vice President of the San Francisco Police Commission, is quick to tip his hat to SFPD for its anti-gang efforts, but questions whether the rest of the community, including those in education, really value at-risk youth as much as any other child. To fail them, he warned, is a loss, calculated both in human and financial calculations.

“It even flies in the face of the costs that’s involved here. I can send the young person to college for maybe you know, $10,000 a year, but you’re going to spend a whole lot more to incarcerate that person,” he reasoned.

 

You can hear KCBS In Depth, a weekly half-hour news interview, Saturdays at 5:30a.m. and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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