With children heading back to school in only a few days, University Park Police decided to host their final crime forum on bullying and gangs Monday night.
Cpl. Mike Rudinski, of the Hyattsville City Police Department, is a local expert on gangs and is the school resource officer at Northwestern High School. He said with the development of technology students are now bullied 24/7 – which is very different from what their parents or grandparents may have experienced.
Rudinski said many times bullies have low self-esteem and in many cases can be stopped if students tell an adult about them.
He discussed the type of gangs and discussed why people join.
“They join for protection,” he said, after a teen in a crowd answered similarly.
Gangs use cohersion, he added, as one means to recruit members, sometimes beating teens daily until they join.
He said the influences of musicians and athletes who wear gang memorabilia or talk about their affiliations doesn’t help either.
Skipping parties and truancy are other issues that can lead to more problems and in Maryland police cannot arrest or pursue a child for truancy, instead parents can get arrested if their students don't show up for school.
So what can parents do?
Rudinski says to follow these tips:
- Help develop the student’s self-esteem. Be a good listener.
- Watch for negative influences; meet their friends and their friends’ parents.
- Communicate with them about their hopes and dreams.
- Be a role model, show your child how to deal appropriately with conflicts.
- Discuss the importance of school and good grades.
- Establish rules and set limits, volunteer at child’s school.
- Demand accountability for time spent, money and clothes.
- Show respect for their feelings.