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Keeping kids out of gangs

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The Oklahoma City Police Department is fighting gangs by playing soccer. And they're doing it in South OKC, offering a free soccer clinic for kids when school is out.

Check out There, you'll find the website for the local Police Athletic League, and some information about free clinics in your area.

In the meantime, there are a few ways parents can help keep their kids safe, and out of gangs. And here are a few ideas to start with, found on

First, develop positive alternatives. Are there after-school and weekend activities kids can enjoy? Can the school offer its facilities? Can parents organize clubs or sports? Can older kids tutor or mentor younger ones? Can the kids themselves help with ideas?

Second, talk with other parents. You'll find out what everyone else's parent really said. You can also support each other and share knowledge that will help spot problems sooner than you can on your own.

Third, work with police and other agencies. Report suspicious activity, set up a Neighborhood Watch or a community patrol; let the police know about gang graffiti, get (and share with other parents) the facts on the gang problem in your community, find out what local services - nonprofit as well as government - will work with communities against gangs.

Fourth, get organized against the gang organization. Use your neighborhood association or a new group. Get help from a variety of sources right in your community: police, priest or minister, family counselor, community association, school counselor or principal, athletic coach, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA / YWCA, Scouts, drug abuse prevention groups, youth-serving agencies, and community centers.

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