How do you avoid gangs when they exist throughout your community? Answer: any way you can.
You can gain true respect in athletic competition - Respect for what you've accomplished. This is far better than receiving a fake respect just because families feel threatened by the people you hang out with.
You gain a group of loyal friends.
You gain power by becoming physically stronger and healthier. Your stress is flushed out during exercise. Your nights are more restful. Your body is conditioned to produce more energy. Meanwhile, gang members are becoming weaker. Drugs are damaging their bodies. Stress is damaging their health. And gangs are beating each other up.
You gain excitement - the thrill of competition. The rush you feel when you beat a personal record or reach your goal. The cheer of the crowd.
You gain safety by spending your time training with a team instead of ducking from rival gang members.
You can take steps toward long term wealth. Employers and colleges look for teenagers that have consistently participated in a team sport. Because team athletes learn and demonstrate vital skills such as self discipline, commitment, drive, and teamwork. Gang members are learning how to break the law, develop a criminal record, and make their neighborhoods unsafe. Sure they may make money from drugs. But wealth from drug money does not last. How many drug dealers do you know stayed in the drug business all their life, raised a happy family, moved to a nice neighborhood, enjoyed retirement and died as a happy old drug dealing grandparent. A drug dealer's life is spent in fear, watching his/her back, checking in and out of rehab clinics, wasting life in prison, ensuring that they will never hold a well paying job and never have a nice happy family life.
Any anger or frustration you have can be flushed from you system through exercise.
Athletics provides a safe place to release aggression and to bring peace to your mind.
Keeping your feelings to yourself can drive you crazy. Talk to a friend, a teacher, a coach, a family member. Draw what you feel. Learn a musical instrument and express yourself through that instrument. Expressing oneself is a need we all have.
If you are being abused, get help.
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If you are thinking of committing a violent act toward yourself or others, get help.
Boys Town National Hotline
Crisis counseling for girls and boys and referral to local help
The National "YOUTH" Crisis Help line