As parents, teachers, mentors and school administrators, it is important we have much insight to understand why children today might be interested in gang activities in order for us to be better equipped to speak to them.
At times, many children feel as though they have got no choice. They may choose to not join a gang, but they can’t see any other reason to avoid the situation. They may be living in fear everyday and see joining a gang as the only best solution to their problems. Indeed, the pressure of joining a gang can be very strong. Children can decide to join a gang as a means of protecting themselves from rival gangs. They may see their neighborhood gangs as the solution to the threats and torments from other gangs.
Have you ever thought – why is it important to encourage children and keep them from gangs? Kids are often told ‘you should not do that’, that’s out of your reach’, and ‘you cannot do this.’ Youth is undoubtedly an incredible thing as it spurs vitality, confidence, fresh outlook and drive. Given the chance, kids can be unstoppable.
Self-esteem tends to fluctuate as children grow. It is regularly fine-tuned and changed, because it’s affected by a child’s new perceptions and experiences. Parents must be able to tell the signs of both unhealthy and healthy self-esteem in their children to be able to encourage them appropriately.
Gang activities seem very exciting to kids. If the ‘excitement thing’ becomes excessive, kids will search for something to engage in to prevent getting bored. In addition, kids especially teens, love to take risks and are thus more likely to be lured into activities in order to ‘make money’. Encourage them to be proud of what they are able to accomplish in an honest and legal manner, as opposed to gang activities.
It may seem boring to constantly remind your kids that they are special in their own way, but this will ultimately be of help to them. They will try as much as they can to live a life full of happiness and achievements in order to accomplish what you’ve always reminded them. Children, who feel loved, important, and valuable, always do their best to live as per the required family and social values.
Being a mentor means you develop an individual relationship in which you as an individual who is more knowledgeable or experienced help to guide an individual who is less experienced or less knowledgeable. Being a mentor does not necessarily depend on the age factor. By that, a mentor may be younger or older but have a particular field or area of expertise. In one sense, mentorship can be said to be a relationship that involves learning and development between a person with vast experience and someone willing to learn. Being a mentor is important as far as success is concerned in all works of life.
Whatever it is in that one wants to achieve in life, a mentor is going to kick start one on the path to achievement. The hardest part of making is getting started. Everyone has goals and dreams, but until one works towards them, they will forever remain a mere dream or a goal. So being a mentor enables another person to be on the verge of starting a success journey. You get the opportunity to give a spark or path of guidance to push a person to undertake the initial step in realizing success.
At all times when one starts on a path towards a new thing, there is going to be lots of uncertainty within him or her along the way. It is natural. Most people can overcome this difficulty solely. Some cannot. This dilemma can be overcome with ease if one has a mentor. The reason being they help them build confidence. So being a mentor enables you to impart confidence by using a variety of ways. For instance, words of encouragement.
Being a mentor enables you to be a resource for life. What does this mean? Well, the explanation is here. When you become a mentor to anyone, you become a guide for life. The direction the relationship takes does not matter, the connection will always be there. Once one has succeeded, there never comes a time where he or she knows everything and does not need help anymore. The point is, being a mentor you will be consulted by those you mentored even after succeeding. Don’t you love the legacy that comes with this?
Being a mentor ideally means you have succeeded in one way or another. You know what it takes to get to a particular point and the sacrifices to be made. Therefore, some young stars shall learn from your experiences for they are invaluable tools. Sharing your experiences will contribute significantly to helping others achieve their goals.
Being a mentor is a good position one can hold. You will get time to interact with many while sharing your experiences and guiding others.
A child who receives proper guidance can better deal with life’s challenges every day, especially in dealing with stressful situations and overcoming obstacles. Life skills are not simply read and then easily applied, but students come to learn through experience, and not necessarily the hard way. Mentoring youth brings about a myriad of benefits that are not only generally good for the mentees, but have long-term effects that are carried on through adulthood.
Having a mentor can give them someone to look up to, someone who can teach them beyond what’s written in books. A mentor becomes a role model that instills good values in a child, sometimes unconsciously. Actions speak louder than words, and when a child sees his or her mentor being polite, friendly, helpful, respectful, then he or she would do the same. Consistency in teachings and observing best practices, like avoiding profanity, how you handle frustration and go through decision-making are all implied on the student. With the help of mentoring youth, the mentees get all much needed support amidst any confusion, dilemma or situation they are currently in. Having an idea of what’s going on and help from someone they trust will let them make the right choices. They won’t be feeling like being told what to do and acting against their will, but are doing what’s right according to their own values.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization in Canada has conducted quite a number of studies which make it evident how mentoring youth is essential in today’s modern times. A five-year study they have conducted showed that Girls were 4x less likely to become bullies than those without a mentor, while boys were 2x less likely. The kids were more confident, believed in their abilities and had fewer behavioral problems. Also, students who receive regular mentoring are 52% less likely than peers to skip a school day and 37% less the likelihood of skipping a class. It is also noted that 46% of youth are less likely to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to resort to drinking, compared to peers who do not have a mentor. (Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130115143850.htm) On the other hand, a study from the North Carolina State University shows that youth from disadvantaged backgrounds are 2x more likely to attend college with the guidance of a mentor. (Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091104161837.htm)
The young minds develop a healthy attitude towards school which allow for a solid educational aspiration. This line of thought results to more college enrollment rates. Likewise, this brings about a significant increase in high school graduation rates with lower dropout instances. There’s also decreased possibilities of drug and alcohol use. Mentoring youth helps keep them out of gangs, they learn how to say no and stand up to what they believe in. They are able to resist peer pressure,are less likely to become bullies, which is applicable for both boys and girls. Moreover, poor grades and performance, absenteeism, teen parenthood, criminal behaviors, and any other grave disciplinary problems are altogether avoided. Sometimes, these children only need to be heard, listened to, and the attention they seek can be granted by a mentor in a very constructive way.
The child exhibits a desirable behavior in school, as well as at home. He comes to learn how to interact better with other people. His or her improved social skills help build stronger relationships with teachers, parents and peers, as well as greatly help maintain healthy relationships. Enhanced self-confidence helps unleash young people’s utmost potential, help bring out and hone their talents and skills. To sum it up, mentoring youth allows teens to grow intellectually and emotionally, and eventually become better and happier adults.
E.L.I.T.E. ( Everyday Living To Encourage) brings honor, courage, commitment, integrity, strength, and character to kids. Nothing is impossible with God….Nothing. Christ is all powerful and when He supplies us with strength both physically and spiritually. We will succeed. Phillipians 4:13
In 2014, 70,000 children and young adults fled from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras towards the southern outskirts of the United States. Many of them were attempting to escape from the dreaded maras in their countries. Maras is the local name for youthful gangs that terrorize El Salvador uprooting an enormous number of individuals from their homes due to persistent violence and terrorizing those that remain. This sad state of affairs is a tragic reality in a nation that emerged from a 10-year civil war 23 years ago. That civil conflict cost left more than 75 thousand individuals dead.
The gangs that now overwhelm El Salvador started in Los Angeles. The US government deported criminal elements to their home countries including El Salvador. These elements had greater organizational skills, money and ambition than those that already existed. It is important to note that they now had contacts in the United States that they could use to smuggle arms, drugs and people into the largest economy in the world for profit.
These elements found that it was anything but difficult to enroll adolescents from shantytowns into their group because these teens lacked money, jobs, and opportunities. The maras could give them something to do that could earn quick money for them even the teens with the least skills. The disregard of poor regions by past government regimes and the private sector was worthy of note. Gangs quickly gained control of large areas in the country with little resistance offered by the corrupt state machinery that existed in the country at the time.
The maras are now a significant part of poor communities in El Salvador. Some gangs have entire family members as part of their crew. In other words, it is not surprising if one finds that a mother, her husband, father, and children are in one gang alongside other members. In 2012, the government of El Salvador estimated that there were nearly 30,000 gang members in the country. These members have relatives, friends and colleagues, which would mean that about 10% of the population in the country has links to one gang or the other. Unfortunately, the deteriorating gang situation in El Salvador leads to extreme violence unseen or unmatched presently in the West. The maras murder no less than ten people each night in this country according to youth gangs statistics El Salvador.
The absence of requisite training and resources for the police force makes it unlikely that the people of El Salvador will solve this issue anytime soon. However, the administration recently unveiled a five-year plan that would lead to the expansion of the law enforcement infrastructure in the country. It would also develop its prison system and improve its programs on behavior correction. The plan will cost the government a whopping $2.3 billion.
Everyday Living To Encourage (E.L.I.T.E) is a missionary program designed to give young men options as opposed to joining gangs. We work with at-risk young men every day and act as positive male role models. Our “Extreme Mentorship” methods, includes obstacle courses, that is used to build their confidence both mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and encourage young men and women to choose Jesus instead of gangs.
Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less knowledgeable person.
Luke 19:10 – “For the son of man came to seek and save the lost.”
God gave a man, His only son, to dwell among us and give us an example and mentor us. This man’s name was Jesus Christ. He came down to earth and taught us that no matter what happens, we are always loved. This is the mission of Elite Teams: to show the love of Jesus Christ and teach the youth how to live.
In El Salvador, sunny weather and lush vegetation would make one think that this is a choice tourist attraction. However, El Salvador is not a safe place to live. Many gangs riddle the city and rival each other. Drug use, rape, murder, and robbery litters the country with a terrorizing stench. Every day, an average of twelve people, seventy percent of them between the ages of fifteen and thirty, are murdered. Most of these killings are due to heated gang violence. Young children, especially young men, are targets for gang recruitment. These young men usually do not have parents to look up to, as they are most likely dead or related to gangs. As a result, the children believe that the only life reserved for them is a life of gang affiliation, and death. This fuels the consistent gang violence terrorizing the neighborhoods of El Salvador. If the gangs began to gain fewer young men, they would be starved of the resources needed for organized crime. That is where Elite Teams comes in.
Everyday Living To Encourage (E.L.I.T.E) is a missionary program designed to give young men options as opposed to joining gangs. We work with at-risk young men every day and act as positive male role models. Our “Extreme Mentorship” methods, includes obstacle courses, that is used to build their confidence both mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and encourage young men and women to choose Jesus instead of gangs. Elite Teams is currently stationed in El Salvador, but we aim to serve in many other countries in the near future.