Prosecutor's Free E-book Helps Parents Talk to Kids About Gangs

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Filling a void in existing gang prevention, education, and awareness programs, a juvenile prosecutor releases an e-book to help parents discuss the negative impact of gangs with their children.

At times there seems to be no end to the vicious and cruel acts some youth are willing to commit against others without showing a shred of remorse

Working as a prosecutor for over seven years, the last two supervising a juvenile delinquency unit in one of the largest cities in New York State, few things surprise Carl A. Bartol, MPA, Esq. anymore when it comes to youth gang violence. Knowing that preventing gang violence involves open communication and often starts at home, Bartol is releasing a free e-book, My Brother's Friends, through the Prevent Delinquency Project to help parents more openly and effectively communicate the dangers of gangs to young children.

"At times there seems to be no end to the vicious and cruel acts some youth are willing to commit against others without showing a shred of remorse," Bartol says. Even so, one thing that still causes him alarm is the rising number of juvenile gang members who commit violent assaults involving knives and firearms and the age at which many of them were introduced to the gang lifestyle.

"Lately, there have been quite a few cases involving hardened fourteen and fifteen year old gang-bangers who once debriefed openly admitted they were jumped in (recruited into) gangs at age seven or eight. It's clear that, despite all of the gang prevention, education and awareness programs that currently exist, we as a society have dropped the ball. It's time to return to the basics - parents talking to their children at home while they are still young enough to be positively influenced and engaged."

Recognizing, however, that discussion between parents and young children about gangs can be awkward and difficult for many parents to initiate, Bartol devised a solution with My Brother's Friends. "Children under age seven respond very well to stories and pictures. Because of that, when this e-book was created a lot of thought was put into not only the tone and specific words that were used, but the illustrations as well. It needed to be non-threatening, short and simple, while at the same time open the door to frank talk about what gangs are, the lies they use to recruit members, the negative impact gang affiliation has on both members and their families, what to do if approached by a gang, and the vulnerable population most likely to be recruited."

To ensure the images in the e-book fit his vision, Bartol reached out to world-renowned illustrator, Steve Gray. "Steve has done a lot of work with Fortune 500 companies and numerous authors of children's books. When approached, he was really excited about the idea. Recognizing that this e-book was being funded solely from my own pocket, Steve was kind enough to deviate greatly from his commercial rates, and for that he deserves a lot of credit and a special thanks," says Bartol.

My Brother's Friends may be downloaded at http://www.PreventDelinquency.org. Bartol encourages not only parents but teachers, counselors, law enforcement professionals and anyone else who cares about keeping kids out of gangs to use this resource. It is available free of charge and may be copied and distributed at will, provided the cover and back pages are included. Bartol also grants the print media permission to reprint the e-book in full. According to him, "the idea here is to reach as many children as possible."

About Carl A. Bartol

When not engaged in his profession, Bartol enjoys spending time with his family, working on the Prevent Delinquency Project which he founded to help parents protect their children from harm, and writing about juvenile issues. His tips for parents and advice about investigating the activities of troubled teens have been published in Our Children, the magazine of the National Parent Teacher Association, PI Magazine, the leading trade journal for private investigators, and Westchester Family.

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