An audience of suburban parents and educators got a sobering wake-up call this week from a Seattle-area gang expert.
Debra Drain offered an unsettling and detailed picture of violent and dangerous youth behavior. She spoke of seeing gang members with initiation marks, burns so deep that doctors had trouble getting skin grafts to heal.
“Don’t say it doesn’t happen here, because it does,” said Drain.
Drain, a Kirkland, Wash., police officer spoke Thursday at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Her talk was one in a series planned this year in the Spokane Valley by the Central Valley Safe Schools Committee.
Watch for tattoos, burns, a change in clothing, she told the group. A change in friends. Hand signs. “And don’t think it’s going to go away. Because it’s not. For some of you, this presentation is as close as you’re going to get to this. But you can share this knowledge with someone else who will need it.”
Not much of what Drain told her audience was new. But she shared detailed knowledge of various types of gangs - Hispanic gangs, Asian gangs, white supremacist gangs.
She urged parents to learn about their teenagers’ friends and to redirect their energy if need be.
The session was one of several planned this school year by the Safe Schools Committee. The school district has worked to prevent gang behavior since 1993.
Kelly Ackerman, a member of the Safe Schools Committee, said parents who filled out evaluation forms found the session informative. Parents also asked for more information from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department.
The next presentation by the committee will be at Horizon Junior High on Feb. 2, when Jenny Wieland will speak about a group called Mothers Against Violent Acts and Doug Halwerta will speak about a group called Students Against Violence.
Drain will return to Spokane for another presentation on May 18.
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