By Marah Arif
Bang. All it took was one finger on the trigger and two teenage boys were gone forever.
What was left? Heartbroken parents who would never see their sons smiling again, living with constant reminder that their child was a victim to gun and gang related violence. This is a reality that families have been facing for the past ten years.
Although investigations are still ongoing it has been confirmed the shooting was targeted. Local authorities have set a verdict as an incident related to gun and gang violence. The family of the victim is urging parents whose children are involved in gangs to no longer hide and reveal the truth.
These families not only need justice, they also want to change the community we live in so that no child could ever be robbed of their future again.
Such changes can be made a reality by incorporating the dangers of gun and gang related violence into the education system.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has assured citizens that gun and gang violence in Surrey is a priority for his government. With the upcoming election, mayoral candidate Surrey First Tom Gill, is promising an estimated cost of $1 million annually for free access to recreation facilities in the city. This course of action is part of a five-year $50 million Surrey First obligation to prevention and new policing with the purpose of quelling the issue of gang violence to protect children and teens.
Tom Gill declared a public safety plan for Surrey which includes free access to the pool, ice rink, and gym for 125,000 kids and teens under 18 in order to keep kids active and away from gangs.
Another candidate explored the solution of developing a new municipal police form to combat the pressing issue. Doug McCallum of the Safe Surrey Coalition proposed the replacement of the RCMP with the new police force.
The candidates communicate great differing solutions for the issue. This might lead one to reconsider the need to incorporate education about gun and gang violence into the school.
Although, providing access to recreation facilities gives children and teen’s fun and safe activities, it does not educate them on the problems at hand. In addition, not all children are going to access these facilities or have an interest in them.
The offer of a special force designed to fend off gang violence and protect children is not something the city would turn down unless they are informed of the lengthy time and high costs it would take.
Doug McCallum explained,
“The costs would also be considerable; he said Surrey could have to spend tens of millions of dollars just for the transition, which would involve capital costs, recruitment costs and legal costs.”
Although they are thoughtful ideas they do not get to the root of the issue.
In order for children and teens to stay away from guns and gang violence they must first understand the dangers behind it which can be best done at school. Although adding the topic into the school curriculum would be a cost, this is a long term plan that starts with children first by steering them onto the right path by developing their knowledge.
Public Safety Canada states that “in 2016, police reported 141 gang-related homicides, 45 more than in 2015. Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled.”
Despite Mayor Linda Hepner’s increase in RCMP officers, 5 of the 7 homicides in Surrey this year have all been a result of gun or gang violence.
The education on the topic can be implemented through planning classes in high school and with guest speakers who have experienced gang life to illustrate to students the hazardous lifestyle.
Allowing the topic to be presented in classrooms can reach not only at risk children and teens but all students would be educated on the issue.
Adding gun and gang related violence education could be incorporated in nationwide thus benefiting other provinces that also experience similar problems such as Ontario.
Education around gun and gang violence can discuss how media glamorize gangs and gang life and how off-screen gangsters sell this lifestyle as well. Teens would learn the repercussions of being in a gang, and how friends and families are affected by it.
The best way to ensure the bright future for these children is to educate them about the dangers of gun and gang violence. We need to put an end to the horrifying realities of a children and teens who have fallen victims to this tragedy. We, as a community, must advocate for school education on guns and gang violence.