Randy McGinley, district attorney for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit, dropped by Carver Middle School last Thursday night, alongside his office’s lead gang and gun violence prosecutor, Alex Stone, to discuss gang activity among area youth at the school’s Parent University.
More than two dozen parents turned out for the event, in which McGinley and Stone discussed the importance of recognizing gang activity in the community and how it might impact young people and possibly draw children into its embrace. The DA said it was key to talk to your children to determine what was going on in their lives and what influences might be attempting to draw them into gang life.
“It’s important to have uncomfortable conversations with your child now, not when they’re a defendant in a case,” McGinley said. Stone talked about the prevalence of gangs even in seemingly quiet communities like Walton County, where young people can band together in copycat groups to emulate the gangs they see on TV and in the movies.
“You can call them starter gangs or gangs in embryo, but they can be just as dangerous,” Stone said. “We see this happening in our own community. Gangs are taking advantage of everyone. The large majority of violent crime is gang related. If it’s not through a gang, it’s often related to a gang.”
Stone said it was a problem that had spread far beyond its urban origins, and that gang crime in the area didn’t always start from afar.
“They’re not just gang members from Atlanta,” Stone said. “They’re from your own community.”
McGinley said the problem was only growing worse due to the prevalence of technology making it easier than ever for such issues to spread and grow away from the eyes of prying adults.
“Technology makes it harder,” McGinley said. “Kids are smart. And social media scares me. You have to know what your kids are doing on social media.”
Both McGinley and Stone shared their insights on the gang issues confronting local schools and encouraged parents to get their kids involved in clubs, sports and other extracurricular activities to make it harder for kids to get involved with gangs.
“It’s not something we can just close our eyes and pretend it’s not happening to us,” Stone