California State Assemblyman Tony Mendoza is tackling L.A.'s gang problem one uninvolved parent at a time:
In a bill that breezed through Legislature yesterday -- virtually unreported, except by our sister paper OC Weekly (so proud!) -- Mendoza gives the state's juvie court system the power to "order the parent or guardian of a minor to attend antigang violence parenting classes [for] an offense that is not gang-related if the court finds the presence of significant risk factors for gang involvement."
The crimes that now qualify as gang-involvement risk factors are crazy petty:
- Habitual disobedience
- Violation of curfew
- Possession of marijuana or alcohol
- Attempt to purchase alcohol
- Possession of a fake ID
- Disorderly conduct
- Fare evasion on public transit
We get it: Mendoza is taking the preventative approach. But since when were shoulder-tapping, friendly neighborhood bus hopping and showing up fashionably late for first period considered gateway crimes for hardcore gang violence?
Better safe than sorry, yes, but being so wildly overdramatic about typical live-and-learn growing pains is not the way to keep young people off the gang circuit. Parents will inevitably panic, and blow every little tween shenanigan into a "warning sign." At a certain point, for a kid, it's like, fuck it -- they've already labeled me a threat to society, might as well make good.
Here are the bare minimums of the anti-gang curriculum, as outlined in AB 177:
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- A meeting in which the families of innocent victims of gang violence
- share their experience.
- A meeting in which the surviving parents of a deceased gang member
- share their experience.
- How to identify gang and drug activity in children.
- How to communicate effectively with adolescents.
- An overview of pertinent support agencies and organizations for intervention, education, job training, and positive recreational activities, including telephone numbers, locations, and contact names of those agencies and organizations.
- The potential fines and periods of incarceration for the commission of additional gang-related offenses.
- The potential penalties that may be imposed upon parents for aiding and abetting crimes committed by their children.
Fun stuff. Parents will also be required to pay for the classes, on top of whatever pains they've already gone through for the sins of their offspring. (A la, the Long Beach woman who faces a year in jail and $2,000 in fines after her son missed 50 days of school.)
Don't miss curfew, kids: This is probably coming out of your allowance.