Gang Bangers Looked To As "Role Models": Urban League Administrator

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 4, 2013 Updated Nov 4, 2013 at 6:35 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21ALIVE) --- We often ask kids what they want to be when they grow up.

An administrator with the Fort Wayne Urban League says some of the pre-teens he deals with are dreaming about a life of crime in a street gang.

J. Foster, the director of youth services for the Urban League, said at a gang violence forum held in town on Friday that a number of third graders through fifth graders are now looking at “gang bangers” as role models.

City police, school resource officers and the Urban League took part in the forum at the Allen County Juvenile Justice Center.

Foster says many of the youth he counsels believe gang involvement offers a positive road to a better life.

He recalls talking recently to a 12-year old who shared how he hopes to pursue a career as a drug trafficker.

" This young man was serious, he wanted to be a dope dealer, you know, I seen the guy, you talk to him and with further conversation you kind of understand that this was what he saw was his only avenue to make it as an adult," Foster said.

Street gangs have been around in Fort Wayne for at least 20 years.

But Foster is suggesting that there seems to be a growing disconnect between young people and opportunities to earn a good living by way of legitimate means.

He feels that is especially the case for youth from lower income families.




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