Gangs in Schools

gangs-in-schools-fbBLOG POST #81: This week I’m sharing my research on a criminal case involving gang activity in a Texas high school. There wasn’t a clear link that two rival gangs were involved.

Before school began, students gathered in the cafeteria. A fight between two boys broke out, one boy staggered from the cafeteria and collapsed in the hallway. Some students attempted to carry him to the front to await emergency responders. He died before help arrived.

It was reported that the fight began after two boys bumped shoulders in passing. It was also reported one of the boys was a member of a local gang. The boy reported to be a gang member used a pocket knife and stabbed the victim numerous times in his abdomen.

A fight occurred the previous day, the fight in the cafeteria may have been retribution, however, the victim was not involved in the previous day’s incident so it’s possible his death was a case of mistaken identity.

The high school was not equipped with metal detectors. A quick search of their website showed the school still does not have metal detectors, most schools. What I thought was amiss was no mention of how student safety is addressed.

Both boys, in this case, were 17-years-old at the time. One is deceased and one is in his second year of a 20-year prison sentence for manslaughter. The jury considered murder with a life sentence, but believed there was no premeditation in the crime. The prison inmate will be eligible for parole after 10-years.

At the sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Johnson said, “Gang violence has gotten out of control… I don’t think the school understood how rampant this has been.”

Here’s another post involving gang activity you may have missed: Why Was A Middle School Student Fleeing The Country?

I admit knowing very little about gangs or gang activity. I attended a Citizen’s Academy program through my county’s sheriff department. Every class was interesting, especially the presentation on gangs. If you’re interested in knowing more about gang tattoos, check out the National Gang Center newsletter-2016-summer.

What are your thoughts on gangs in school and how schools can stay vigilant?

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Parachute Kids

Parachute Kids FBWhat is a parachute kid? High school age children, 14-19 years old, sent unaccompanied to the United States from other countries to attend school. Public school has government restrictions on foreign student enrollment, so parachute kids mostly attend private schools. Many parachute kids are from China looking for a Western education. California has a large population of parachute kids.

It was reported, nearly one million international students enrolled in US schools in 2014-2015; approximately 31% were from China. In one rural community in Southern California, the number of Parachute Kids enrolled in high school went from 40 three years ago to more than 300.

Parachute kids are big business, over 25 billion dollars big. It costs the student’s family, primarily middle-class, about $50,000 per year. They consider it an investment. The students live in boarding homes or homestay with an American family which could cost $1,500 per month for room and board.

“You basically have kids who are managing themselves and have no one to answer to,” said Police sergeant Perez, who was involved in the case.

The main problem is the children have no supervision. The majority of international students attending school in the US do so without incident. Lack of supervision was a contributing factor to what ended in a prison sentence for four Chinese parachute kids. Would the children discussed in this post have been troublemakers had they stayed in China with parental supervision? We’ll never know.

“Superior Court Judge Thomas C. Falls said in court, it reminded him of “Lord of the Flies,” William Golding’s 1954 novel about boys stranded on a deserted island without grownups.

Four Chinese parachute kids forced another to clean the floor of an ice cream parlor with her hands. And then the victim was taken to a park and forced to undress. The victim was slapped, kicked, and burned with cigarettes. The victim’s hair was cut off and she was forced to eat her hair.

The criminal with the longest sentence, the alleged ringleader, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, inflicting great bodily injury, and assault. The charge of torture which carries a life prison sentence was dropped. She was sentenced to 13-years in prison.

Criminal #2 pleaded guilty to kidnapping, inflicting great bodily injury, and assault. She was sentenced to 10-years in prison.

Criminal #3 pleaded guilty to kidnapping and assault. He was sentenced to 6-years in prison.

Criminal #4 pleaded guilty to assault. She was sentenced to 3-years in prison.

What are your thoughts on this crime or on parachute kids? Do you know of a school-related crime? Send me an email and we can discuss it.

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Why Was A Middle School Student Fleeing The Country?

Middle School ShootingOn February 15, 2010, the City of Madison, Alabama, chartered a School Task Force to (among other things) review nationally recognized Gang Awareness training.

On February 5, 2010, a 14-year old middle school student in the quaint community of Madison, Alabama, brought a weapon to school fearing a gang member was going to harm him.

Between classes the 14-year old student walked up to a fellow student, and in the presence of other students, shot the alleged gang member in the back of his head killing him.

The 14-year old student was arrested and charged with murder. After surrendering his passport and posting bond, he was released to the custody of his parents.

A few months prior to his trial, the former middle school student, his mother, and younger his sister were detained at a Dallas, Texas, bus station. In their possession was a large amount of cash and new passports issued by the Pakistan Embassy. The Pakistan Embassy was unaware of the pending murder trial. The former middle school student’s family was originally from Pakistan, legally living in the United States.

The boy’s parents were arrested and charged with Hindering Prosecution, a Class C felony in Alabama. Both parents pleaded guilty to Attempted Hindering Prosecution, a misdemeanor and were sentenced to one year of probation.

Scheduled to be tried as an adult, the former middle school student pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Along with more than 1,300 other criminals, the former middle school student now resides at Staton Correctional Facility, a medium security facility located in Elmore, Alabama. His scheduled release date is 8/3/2041, but he may be considered for parole in 2026.

Additional information: The City of Madison, Alabama, School Task Force identified concerns to the safety of their schools. One pertinent concern was (in part) indicators reflect that weapons may at times be brought on school property. The Task Force recommendation was to consider using training efforts on how to report and respond to reported weapons incidents, in addition to considering the use of portable wands to detect weapons on a case by case basis.

What do you think of this case? Was the sentence justified? Were the parent’s sentences justified? What are your thoughts on how schools can be proactive instead of reactive to stop school violence?

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