LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - More and more people are becoming involved in gangs. There are moreof them outthere,and people arejoining them at a younger age.
We're not just talking about the blood and crips anymore, there are a few offshoots and we want you to know more about them so you can stay aware.
Gangs aresomething Little Rock police officers say never really go away, and Liefel Jackson, a former gang member agrees. "We've gone up a hundred fold," he says.
"The scary part is we are having a lot of off shoot, young kid gangs, like the boguards, they have younger kids that are forming their own task and these kids are starting to sweep all across the state of Arkansas," says Jackson.
Jackson says the younger the kids are, the higher the risk. "I've always said, I'd rather a hard gang member stand in front of me with a gun verses a young kid who doesn't understand the responsibility of pulling the trigger."
Some of those young kids are joining gangs at only 10 or 12 years old. Jackson says there are a few things you can watch for to find out if your child is involved in gang activity. Check their homework, if they draw a line through the letters A or B, that could mean disrespect to the bloods or crips.
"You'll see a lot of the crips wearing Kentucky, which is blue and these kids are so smart. For instance, they will wear the Colorado Rockies, which means Crips rules."
Jackson goes on to say, "Other little signs is having one leg rolled up and you are able to see one sock and it's red or blue."
If you happen to see any of those signs in your child, or you just want to prevent yourchild from getting involved, there is a group of people working on a solution. We'll introduce you, and talk to a junior high student to find out how they are helping him stay out of trouble.
"I Believe" is a group geared toward helping youth. We discovered it after a viewer saw our story on gang-related homicides.
"I Believe" works with Boys and Girls Club, Centers for Youth and Families and many other organizations all working to help kids stay out of gangs and danger.
Eddie Exxon isan 8th grader who is one of the many students this program is helping. He spends most of his afternoons at the Boys and Girls Club in Little Rock.
He's a part of the "I Believe" program. "They help us with our unfinished homework and teach us how to become something in life and to believe in the things we should believe in,"Eddie says.
The program works with students 12 and older. They have mentors on-hand to help with everything from math, to sports, and even downtime.
"We got certain things we can do, we can go to the gym or the activity center or the game room. We can do a whole lot of stuff, we got a library too."
Exxon says those activities keep him busy. "I'm always here so it keeps the bad stuff away from me."
Robert Holt tells us "I Believe" integrates help from several organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, that way there is more help to combat boredom, whichwhat they say is a teen's biggest problem.
"Our mentors are picking the kids up and taking them to see movies and going to church together and doing all sorts of things with these students on a regular basis," says Holt.
Those mentors also teach and encourage positive behavior.
"We are all there to give these kids and show them they have other options and let them know how valuable they are and how important their life is," Holt adds.
Thousands of kids are involved in "I Believe' across central Arkansas,if you want to find out how you can get your kids involved click here.