Talking about . . . gangs and their impact
In the 1980s, the issue of gangs in America received a great deal of attention, with a focus on the role of gangs in the drug war, dangers to Americans and their impact on youth, in particular. Since that time, there has been less public discussion about gangs, even though they haven’t gone away. It is well established that our criminal justice system is filled with gang members. Have gangs touched your life? Or someone you know? What is it about gangs that they continue to flourish in the most dismal conditions? What we learn about gangs may well assist us in improving our communities.
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Background reading (optional)
While you don't need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.
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Now that you are all together, here we go!
This Living Room Conversation flows through five rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.
Before you begin your conversation, please go over the Conversation Ground Rules with your participants.
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One. Why are we here?
What interested you or drew you to this topic?
Two. Your core values
- what sense of purpose or duty guides you in life? What is your mission statement?
- what would your best friend say about who you are and what makes you tick?
- what are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country, now and long-term?
Three. What are your biggest concerns about gangs?
Remember that the goal of this Living Room Conversation is for each participant to listen to and learn about the different opinions within the group to see where you might share interests, intentions and goals.
- where have gang members or gangs touched your life? What happened?
- what are the elements of gang culture? How does this serve gang members?
- what is the best possible community response to growing gang membership?
- where is concerns about gangs on your top-10 community focus list? Why?
- in one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation;
- what new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
Five. Accomplishment and moving forward
- name one important thing that was accomplished here;
- is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?
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