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Youths Need Outlets to Avoid Gangs

January 06, 1994

What I find troublesome as we grope for answers to strife, conflict and crime in Oakwood and elsewhere is that we fail to recognize gangs need not be a pejorative word.

Gangs are a natural development in the teen-age peer years. But what our "gang" becomes depends, in some measure, on the outlets that are available for association and play.

In my teen-age years, the YM/WHA--today's Jewish Centers--was my outlet in New Haven, Conn. And try as I did to get one friend to join me, he preferred to gamble and shoot crap. He wound up in reform school and eventually became the town's bookie. I became a group worker. And over the years, when back home, we'd remember the years.

And as I look around me in the Westside, and my immediate neighborhood, the Pacific Palisades, where are the teen-agers' outlets? We're heavy with pre-nursery, nursery and senior programs, but for teen-agers, limited or nonexistent.

The teen-age years are important peer-connection years. Make sure they're right and most often, the teen-agers will grow up all right.

We need more teen-agers' clubs, recreation outlets, competitive sports for those who can't make the school teams, and programs with social value to gain esteem.

And in spite of its reputed wealth, we in the Palisades have an inadequate Y, no movie house, or even an old hot dog stand. And too few people care.


Pacific Palisades

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