Workshops to Stop Gangs and Bullies
Brooklyn DA and Medgar Evers College Target Youth Workers
BROOKLYN – As part of an ongoing partnership aimed at improving the health and safety of central Brooklyn, Medgar Evers College and Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes offer workshops to local youth workers on how to prevent bullying and gang activity.
The participants, all staff members of the Medgar Evers College School of Professional and Community Development (SPCD), run after-school tutoring, college prep and job training programs for youth throughout central Brooklyn. The aim is to enhance the learning experiences of young adults and provide opportunities for them to become more involved in their communities.
Assistant District Attorney Ed Carroll of the Brooklyn DA’s Gangs Bureau led a recent workshop on understanding and preventing gang involvement. Carroll spoke about the importance of being cognizant of the behavior, dress and demeanor of the teens with whom SPCD staff interacts.
Teens turning up with expensive clothing or shoes, flashing hand signals and hanging out with a new group of friends that all dress alike are signs of gang involvement, he noted, as is withdrawing from school and family.
“One of the best ways to keep young people out of gangs is to ensure they have positive, adult role models, who care about them, ask about their day and take an interest in their hobbies,” Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes added. “Positive role models promote respect and tolerance and help kids understand the positive role of friendship and finding respectful friends.”
In the bullying prevention workshop, Assistant District Attorney and Special Counsel to Schools Frank Laghezza identified the signs of bullying, from a child or teenager seeming afraid of going to school, riding the bus or taking part in organized activities with peers to him or her having torn or damaged clothing or books.
Laghezza also talked about ways in which SPCD staff could identify the bullies and cyberbullies themselves, who are often impulsive, dominant or easily frustrated and show interest only in activities that promote violence.
“These anti-bullying and anti-gang workshops speak to the challenges that we face as educators in our community,” Medgar Evers College President William L. Pollard said. “Yet I am heartened by the commitment of our college staff in advancing their skills in these critical areas, and by the support demonstrated by District Attorney Charles J. Hynes and his staff in providing this training.”
The workshops were organized under the auspices of the Community Justice Program, which combines aspects of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s renowned reentry, diversion and anti-crime initiatives with programs offered by Medgar Evers College and creates additional opportunities for students, faculty and staff members interested in law and social justice.
“The strategies I learned today on preventing bullying and gang activity will be helpful as I continue to work with out-of-school youth,” said Julanne Reid, program director for a college-based job training program called BETA Academy, who participated in Saturday’s event. “I especially thought the discussion about available resources was relevant, and I commend the Brooklyn District Attorney for organizing this program.”
The Community Justice Program’s next event will be the final seminar in the semester-long series “The Criminal Justice System as an Agent of Social Change,” which will take place at Medgar Evers College in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Thursday, May 10, from 3 to 5 p.m.
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