“Popular culture is a powerful force.
We can’t make it go away.
The best we can do is try to understand it.
Then help our children navigate it”
Part of that preparation for the bully who will approach your child requires an honest look at the forces in play. For example, the epidemic of bullying coincides with an epidemic of gang membership in America, a 40% surge according to the FBI’s National Gang Threat Assessment study that stunned law enforcement officials across the country.
Without connecting any dots in a cause and effect relationship, the fact is that our children have the cult of dominance and the allure of the thug life marketed to them every day in music, video games, television, movies, social media, and clothing.
Popular culture, fueled by mass and highly personalized media, is a powerful force. We can’t make it go away. The best we can do is try to understand it. Then help our children navigate it.
Back to gangs for a moment, it’s worth noting that the big league gangs have minor league farm teams. And many of their best recruits can be found among the New American Bullies.
Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles and a leading advocate for young people involved in gangs, addressed a Virginia gathering in May 2012. His words echo today.
“Hopeful kids….don’t join gangs,” Father Boyle offers. “There has never been, in the history of the world, a hopeful child who joins a gang,” said the priest who has for three decades made his life rescuing young people from Los Angeles’ most brutal gangs.
“Our job, then, is to infuse hope,” Father Boyle said.
This same wisdom and the power of hope that it supports are applicable in dealing with the New American Bully and the trail that he or she leaves behind.
Bobby Kipper and Bud Ramey have co-authored two books and numerous articles on the crisis in youth violence plaguing our culture, addressing “best practices” for making a difference in the gang crisis and bullying epidemic that is impacting an entire generation. Over 4,400 young people committed suicide last year, largely due to the bullying epidemic. Their books, No BULLIES : Solutions for Saving Our Children from Today’s Bully and No COLORS : 100 Ways to Stop Gangs from Taking Away Our Communities, offer advocacy for at-risk youth.
Bobby Kipper, Director and Founder of the National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence, is a career law enforcement officer with extensive experience in the area of preventing youth and community violence nationwide. His background includes working on a number of key national initiatives with the White House, Congress, and the Department of Justice.
Bud Ramey is the 2010 Public Affairs Silver Anvil Award winner of the Public Relations Society of America—the highest public affairs recognition in the world. His grassroots public affairs and humanitarian successes and advocacy for at-risk youth stretch across three decades.