tv Comunidad del Valle NBC September 1, 2013 9:30am-10:01am PDT
hello and welcome to comunidad del valle. today's topic is girls in gang. how big is it and what's being done about it on your comunidad del valle. a growing number of girls are joining gangs, the silicon valley council of nonprofits conducted a study on this topic. lets take a look. there was a time when elizabeth walked a street with a pack, girls and young men who enjoyed the gang lifestyle. elizabeth was only 14 when she joined. >> all my life growing up, i was
a little girl and i didn't receive a lot of attention from my parents. >> the gang, she said, gave her the attention she was lacking. it meant as men as nine stints in juvenile hall and county jail. >> the first time i was drunk in public. i was young. i was not doing the right thing. >> a new study by the silicon valley council of nonprofits reports one in ten gang members nationwide is a girl. in san jose there's been an increase of as much as 15% over the last decade. >> the increase we have seen very alarming. vice mayor says even in these cash strapped times, the city needs to invest more in gender specific programs to target female gang members. >> i think if we can focus funding and allocate our funding we currently have right now to a program who caters to girls participating in gang activities, i think that would be helpful. >> last week prosecutors in san jose rolled out suspects they say are two dozen oppose fits of
the prison gang. among them were seven females. >> basically that's when i couldn't live the way i was living. >> elizabeth is a college student today. her bright tattoos are virtually gone. she now spends her free time talking to other girls urging them not to follow in her path as a teenager. brave story by that young woman. with me on comunidad del valle, rosanna alvarez. they are with an organization, collective. welcome to the show. i want to get into the title of your group because i think it's pretty significant. we saw elizabeth's plight living in the gang lifestyle, how she got into it and out of it. what's happening right now, in estimation, on the streets of santa clara county. >> i think right now what we're
seeing is a lot of girls more active. it's not so recent news. it's been things that have been going on for the last 10, 15 years. when i started in 2000, i was on the gang intervention unit and also did a program for young women. what we saw was half of my participants lead to more women. now more active, thinking it's the climate because we're seeing a lot more violence with young men in our communities. people are now starting to ask themselves -- it's been a question for the last 10, 15 years. what about the young women. who is helping them? who is targeting them? how are we going to support them in navigating these families we come from and navigating our friends, our piers in that situation. >> that's important work y'all are doing. tell us about the collective, if you will, how did it start?
my mama called me -- [ speaking spanish ] how did that come about? >> it really is an acknowledgement of that. she directed it to you as a young man. i'm surprised to hear that. we hear it as young women. [ speaking spanish ] mind you, this would be me three houses down the block. our work, students, graduates in the program, conducting research, presenting at conference, based on the philosophy that really, women can take that and do empowering and poweringful work with that. we became a research collective and we wrote poems, did arts-based work, revamped programming at the intervention center. once we all kind of went our separate ways, we discovered there was a gap in services that
really in talking to other women that, you know, are probation officers, do social work are in the classrooms, there isn't that gender response and cultural approach that speaks to these young women constantly being called that. so they start to believe all the negative associations with that being out in the streets. they tart to empower themselves by embracing that. our work came about taking everything we learned and read and talked and practiced out in the community and put it in a solid place to fill that need and that gap and take all the negative experiences and put they will together in a way we can reflect it back to the young women and use our example and personal stories to empower them to do more positive things out in the world. >> if you're wondering what to do with that master's agree in chicano studies, who is an example of what you can do.
it's very significant over at st. francis university. in our next couple of segments we'll have a deputy district attorney who deals with gangs. your job, however, is to make sure the females you deal with do not get to her level. >> right. >> how successful do you think you've been or can be? >> i think the notion of success is definitely different. we have to start looking at individuals. have we been successful? yes. we've been doing this work in the community since the year 2000. we've been active in the community. have we been able to help women steer clear, yes, we have. have some made mistakes and followed those paths, yes. one of the things different from us and our organization is even when they make mistakes we're still there. we're supportive. we helped them find lawyers. we've helped them navigate that process. we ask them to acknowledge
lessons and develop and not make those mistakes again. that's a big notion of success. i've had young women who have ended up, have been released, work in the community and now doing the kind of work we're doing with our own curriculum. that's beautiful. >> they know what they are talking about. walk the walk and talk the talk. let me show you a couple of website, one for silicon valley nonprofits, that's where you can get the report they just came out with. the other website is for the project. there it is, more in-depth with problems in gangs when we continue. ♪
too big. ♪ too soft. too small. ♪ mmm! ♪ too happy. ♪ [ male announcer ] at progresso, we've got a passion for quality. because you've got a passion for taste. back here talking about girls and gangs, chatting through commercial breaks. that's okay. a lot of issues we need to get across. finish your conversation. you wanted to talk about something specifically. >> when we started talking about this notion of the young women we're working with and why we
really went and decided to personalize it ourselves. it also talks about voice and agency and a lot of the young women involved in gangs are doing just that. is it the most positive way? no, not yet. i think our job is really to support and being able to help them navigate lessons of life. gangs, we hear about it a lot. they teach family, loyalty, connection, skewed definitions of that, negative definitions of that. it does become part of our journey to support and using the terms they know about but really giving them the correct definitions and also being able to support the development of voice and being assertive. we don't have to be negative and violent to be assertive. we can stand with our own voice in our own space. it's a little different when we talk about mexican american young ladies.
we have a traditional way of looking at things. i think that's where the collective came from. my mom still doesn't like the name. she's saying why are you pushing that out. you know, it isn't about boys but being able to stand for yourself, define yourself, declare proudly you're here and going to move forward. >> you can be a positive, not negative. one thing the nonprofit is pushing is for there to be gender specific programs. those programs need to be funded. talk pout that significance and how that might help your work. >> first of all there's also almost a confusion around that request. you know, sometimes we think in order for these issues to get that funding we have to shift the funding there. there needs to be more money invested in resources throughout. >> don't take away from one to give money for other. >> what's working is working but
there's a gap. lets put more resources into themont. ultimately what we're trying to do is created a vokts f advocat change. a consult really relevant program that let young women define what it is to be a young woman. whether they want it be that or not. they have that choice. a lot of times what we see is blaming of families and tradition. it's a mexican thing organic thing. there's been five generations of things. how is this person not a gang member. the community accountability behind that. sometimes the stereotypes we carry go onto that youth and internalize those. >> missing family involvement in
it or lack thereof but saying there are other things happening in that child's life? >> there are other factors. lets add regulars some of those factors so we can help them set themselves up in the best way possible. if their choice is to do positive things in the community, we believe they are capable of doing that. >> you received a safe summer initiative grant for your program. how did that go? >> it went beautiful. we had 15, 16 women who participated in the program. >> you could have had more. >> exactly. as a collective, we just formalized this last year. we wanted to give ourselves time to focus on these 12 young women -- i'm sorry, 15 young women, as well as in the program. we had young women in the harder core, gang affiliated to more higher functioning. we like the mix of that.
i think as women we work in a collective. it really worked out in terms of allowing other higher risk youth the possibilities, the opportunities we have. >> there is pier to help. >> some of these young women they really became engaged. we held it at mexican heritage plaza. they were walking. so we had a young girl that walked all the way past american heritage plaza. it would take her and her boyfriend two hours. she would bring her brother in a baby stroller six years old because she was going to watch him but i'm not missing the programs. that is engagement. >> that location, school of arts and culture, a range of ashtistic and cultural activities is mexican heritage. they are in charge of the facilities. we were very fortunate to have buy in from there early on and
support. >> that's has that place was meant to serve as a community resource like that. my kids in summer camp. show you the information for the andariegas collective. how you can get involved in getting girls out of gangs. up next comunidad del valle, dealing with gang members. stay with us. mom...
she's in charge of prosecuting game crimes in santa clara county. a d.a. with the santa clara office. my guest on comunidad del valle. give me an assessment of the conversation we had with those ladies from the andarieaga collective. >> first thanks for having me here. it's an honor. those two guests are incredibly amazing women doing great work. seeing that gives us hope, you
know, that there is a chance and we can change and make a difference in the community. i think everything they are doing is excellent. unfortunately there's some bad seeds that aren't going to be successful in their program but those are two amazing, excellent woman. >> you prefer that rather than that file landing on your deck purchase absolutely. i would love to have less work. >> how bad. information you sent me five female gangs identified in santa clara county. >> the thing to know, there are all female gangs but females who are part of male gangs and also females that are associates or home girls to gangs. the gang problem is much larger than just saying there's five gangs. you know what's going on in san jose. we're up to 30 something homicide. it's violent. a lot of homicides and a lot of
assaults and robberies are gang related. >> how big of a role do girls or females play in those assaults. sometimes they act as mules in carrying contraband or what not for gang members? >> absolutely. women are almost essential to the survival of gangs. one of the most important things for a gang to continue and flourish is communication. women are key in that. they carry what's called kites or communication letters. they make three-way phone calls, which is when an inmate, a person in custody, they call their girlfriend, wife, whatever, the female and she makes another call to a gang member so she can communicate with them and pass the message often the reason why the woman is important jail calls are recorded and we know phone numbers. they use the woman as the three-way caller so we can't catch the number. as we talked about earlier, women carry guns for them, drugs for them, they will be the
getaway driver or alibi witness. just as important in the actual act. >> you don't have to be a member of that gang to receive a gang enhancement for that crime. >> correct. a perfect example, a case we had here in santa clara county where a mother drove her son, a gang member, to go assault and stab someone. he did. she drove him away from the scene. she was the getaway driver and we charged her with gang enhancement and has been sentenced to five years prison. even though you weren't in or an official member, if you were doing actions that help or support or further the gang and are aware of the activity, you will be charged with gang enhancement as well. >> what's directive from jeff rosen, d.a., what does he sign your unit, gang unit to do in the d.a.'s office, as far as being aggressive, leniency, what is the directive from above? >> jeff rosen, he definitely
communicates with us as gang prosecutors and we look at each case and situation. i know jeff is really into programs such as the one we heard about earlier in the show. we have parent program. i don't know if you're familiar with that. mr. rosen definitely if the crime is done we're going to charge it but he's also taking the route of lets not get that crime, stop it before it comes to my desk. i think programs we talked about and parent program are excellent things out there in the community that i hope your viewers take advantage of. >> parent project is significant. some parents might feelike they lost control or about to use patrol of their teenager however old that child might be. parent project is designed to help parents understand, intervene. >> exactly what it is. parents who need help because they feel like i'm losing
control of my child. it's children that are females or males and both going into gangs or other activity. they are there to help guide and give them support. >> talking this whole half hour, girls and gangs problem we have in santa clara county. the web address is right there on the screen. log on and find out more about what jeff rosen and his staff are doing for gang crimes in the area. we'll be back and talk more about this important topic when we continue. [ female announcer ] when you asked us to remove
high fructose corn syrup from yoplait original and light, we were like, "sure. no problem!" and you were like, "thanks, but what about thick & creamy and whips!" and we were like, "done and done! now it's out of everything yoplait makes." and you were all, "yum!" and we're like, "is it just us, or has this been a really good conversation?" and you were like, "i would talk, but my mouth is full of yogurt." yoplait. it is so good! she's in charge of prosecuting gang crimes in santa clara county. your staff is big, unit is big. >> yes it is. we're very luck y. jeff has given us about 14 attorneys on the team. there's a lot of us, but we're
busy. >> in our report at the top of the program you heard from elizabeth campos who said she got into drinking as a preteen sometimes because there was just nothing at home. the ladies earlier mentioned only part of the problem -- here is elizabeth here. is that half the problem, no one at home who cares for these children? how would you assess problems at home? >> i think that's an excellent point. i think that's why i stress that, parents need to take an interest in their children and know what they are doing after school, where they are going, what they are doing. i'm a huge supporter of children playing sports. it's when they are hanging out with nothing better to do is when we get into trouble. another thing i think is causing a lot of trouble is social media, facebook, instagram, things like that. these guys will post photos of
themselves in gang colors, weapons, flashing signs and it's appealing. young women will contact them. next thing you know you have a relationship started and now she's hanging out with this gang member. i encourage parents to regulate facebook. >> as a prosecutor your job is to make sure justice is upheld. as a person, does it get sad at some point when you see the faces of these young women and young boys sometimes when you have to throw the book at them? >> absolutely. it's not a job or something i pleasure in when i have to send someone to jail or prison. at the same time, there are some victims out there and i feel ike doing my job, these crimes are horrific. they terrorize neighborhoods. we have cases where young kids are trying to go to school or walk somewhere and they can't walk on certain streets. it's with a heavy heart sometimes i do what i do but i also think my job i'm helping
the community. i'm taking care of victims. i would love for everyone to walk outside their door and feel safe. i think that we have seen more women and the ages of people getting younger and younger who are involved in this. that does kind of break your heart when it's the 14-year-old. think back what was i doing when i was 14. i definitely wasn't walking around with a gun. so it breaks your heart. there is hope out there. that's why your program, your guests before were so great. makes you realize there is something to do. there's two women there, that's their life mission to help. that is so encouraging. >> you brought up something i didn't bring up. your job is to protect the victims. we haven't talked about the victims because these gangs are not -- these crimes are not victimless. there's always a face behind it. >> absolutely. sometimes it is gang member against gang member. you know what, i have to look at
cases, this person did this act and they harmed this person. yeah, sometimes my victims aren't the most innocent but there are plenty of cases where we truly have innocent victims trying to go about their life and they were on the wrong street at the wrong time. we have to stop that. >> can you can in impromptu mode, give us tips for parents. let me say, maybe these parents are not able to go to this parent project or go through some of some parental training that is being offered out there. but a couple of tips maybe you can give parents out there to keep their kids on the straight and narrow. >> i think one of the top tips is social media. if you can somehow look at their facebook page or cell phone and who they are talking to, that's huge. that gives them access to these individuals you don't have control over. i would say parents, number one, talk about social media. number two, i really think what
you need to instill in your young daughters and even young boys, too, you can get this gang enhancement even not being a full-fledged member. i don't think people understand that. next thing you know, a case on my desk, a young promising girl with a very bad boyfriend and she helped him, drove him somewhere and now looking at a gang enhancement, which is a strike. >> d.a.'s office, address on your screen. log on and find out more about resources you can look up there at the d.a.'s office website. thank you for the work you're doing. >> thank you for having me. >> now here is what's happening in your comunidad.
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