Consider the following:
- To feel accepted or a sense of belonging
- For a sense of identity
- For respect
- Because siblings and family are members
- For status amongst peers and others
- Because they feel like it’s the ‘norm’
- For friends and acceptance
- For financial gain and other rewards
- For protection from others; gangs, groups or peers
- As a result of being identified and recruited
Could we all agree that our kids need and seek out belonging to a group for the reasons listed above? They all seem very reasonable and if we think back to our youth, or even to this morning, striving for these same qualities really does resonate with each of us.
Could we all agree that providing a positive mentor in a child’s life can help them experience or develop these qualities ... the sense of belonging, increased self-worth, feeling respected and valued, etc.? Having a mentor to journey with a child and recognize their uniqueness, gifts, and talents is the difference that our kids need!
The list above represents the reasons why children and young people join gangs. I got the list from the Childnet International website that addresses this very serious issue. There isn’t a secret formula to help kids grow up to be positive, contributing adults in our communities. You have what a child needs. It’s standing with them. Believing in them. Encouraging them. Being present. Being predictable.
Since 2002, January has been designated Mentor Month. Locally, we just launched a “30 Mentors in 30 Days” campaign. You know what that means, right? 30 more kids get someone that will help them believe in themselves. Please join us and be there for a kid, like someone was there for you.