Our View: Carrot and stick good approach

Surrey has not had a good year when it comes to crime.

At least two gangs, each apparently chock full of armed, reckless young men, have been taking pot shots at one another’s members for weeks. Over a 10-week period, there were 27 shootings in Surrey and nearby North Delta.

It will be welcome news to locals that another 100 RCMP officers have been approved by the federal government. More police means faster response times, more investigators, and hopefully quicker arrests of the most dangerous bad guys.

But more important in the long term will be the $3.4 million announced by the federal government to educate kids away from joining gangs. Up to 400 children, aged 11 to 19 who are considered vulnerable to joining gangs, will be the targets of the program.

Perhaps the new initiative could be expanded to other areas around the Lower Mainland, the province, and the country as a whole.

The truth is probably one of the best ways of reaching kids. The average drug dealer, for example, can make less than minimum wage. Studies in the 1990s showed that drug dealers and gang members just don’t make that much cash, with most gang members living at home with their parents. 

Then there’s the danger aspect. It’s not just the chance of dying – that can have a mystique for many aggressive young men. It’s the chance of getting a bullet that severs your spine, lodges in your skull and leaves you with brain damage, or just slices through internal organs, leaving the victim with chronic pain and years of operations.

If you’re very lucky, you might add a prison term to that list of fun gang facts.

Gang life in the movies looks grim and gritty, but glamourous. Gang life in the real world often ends in a hospital bed, a prison cell, a grave – or maybe worst of all, still living at home, with no skills, a criminal record, and wishing like crazy you’d applied to work at that fast food place rather than becoming a gangster.

– M.C..

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