Fifteen black and Latino men sat in a half circle, taking notes as I spoke about the core competencies demanded by street work.
"To build relationships with proven-risk, gang-involved youth, you must fulfill your promise." I thought about the boys, then continued. "If you commit to being involved in their lives, never promise anything you can’t deliver."
I quoted Fredrick Thrasher, the "Godfather of Gang Research."
"Ganging is normal peer activity for adolescents within a continuum of behaviors that range from conventional to wild."
"Community violence is frequent and random; and comes with continual exposure to the use of guns, knives, and drugs."
"Secondary trauma can occur when you see or hear about a traumatic event. Secondary trauma or vicarious trauma does not happen to you directly, but you feel its effect."
The last quote made me think about what my son wrote in his Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Do-It-Yourself Book.
He imagined his future, "I want to live in a house on the beach, with a pet turtle, be a lawyer, making $100K a year, and with no kids."
And he also wrote of his worst nightmare, "I had a dream that I was shot in the head."
My son has symptoms of secondary trauma and yet we don’t live in a neighborhood overwhelmed with violence. I wonder what we would discover if we gave every child a Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Do-It-Yourself Book.