New Program Teaches Kids Gang-Refusal Strategies


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

Aug. 16, 2004

 

New Program Teaches Kids Gang-Refusal Strategies

 

In a coordinated effort to fight gangs, the Fairfax County Police Department and three county human services agencies have started a summer camp to teach pre-teens gang-refusal strategies. This camp continues the county’s campaign to stem gang recruitment in potential hot spots within its borders.

The “Road Dawgs Summer Camp” began today for 35 pre-teens from the Annandale area. Working collaboratively, the four county agencies recruited middle school students who are exposed to gangs. While this year’s camp focuses on Annandale youth, “Road Dawgs” will be rolled out to other parts of the county in coming years.

Marrying the expertise of the police, Fairfax County Department of Community and Recreation Services, the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board and Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, the week-long day camp will run through Friday, Aug. 20, at a different county facility every day.

“It’s just like the adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Captain Jack Hurlock, commander of the West Springfield District Station and one of the camp’s architects. “Preventing kids from joining gangs is just as important as suppressing gang activity — and this camp is unique because it recognizes that only a joint effort can solve the gang problem.”

“Road Dawgs” will focus on three main goals:

• Increase pre-teens’ skills to resist joining gangs and experimentation with tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
• Provide pre-teens with alternatives to “hanging out” — the unsupervised time when they typically might engage in violence or substance abuse.
• Introduce pre-teens to the numerous programs and services offered by the police and county human services agencies.

“By bringing together a diverse group, we are able to address issues from many different approaches,” said Laura Yager, director of Prevention Services for the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board. “Our resources can be maximized because of our collaborative approach.”

A centerpiece of the camp’s activities will be the “Get Real About Violence” program, which will be run by Community Services Board employees. This program teaches gang-refusal through classroom instruction and role playing. Campers also will learn tobacco and alcohol prevention skills from Community and Recreation Services instructors. While the police engage in role playing, a judge with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court will lecture the pre-teens about the myths and realities of gang life.

During the week, camp participants will visit the county’s Criminal Justice Training Academy, Operations Support Bureau, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court and the West Springfield District Police Station. Each day the children will engage in team-building, role playing and decision-making exercises.

At the camp’s end, participants will be connected with other county programs and facilities, like the Police Department’s “Explorer” program or the RECenters.

For more information about the “Road Dawgs Summer Camp,” please contact Captain Jack Hurlock with the West Springfield District Police Station at 703-451-5066, TTY 711, or Evan Braff with the Fairfax County Department Community and Recreation Services at 703-324-5650, TTY 711.


 

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