MT. OLIVE, NC (WECT) – Hundreds of law enforcement officers, educators and area leaders met Thursday in Mt. Olive to discuss some of North Carolina's biggest issues on violence.
Gangs have been one of the most challenging issues to battle, not only on the streets, but also in schools.
"The students see what they can get away with in the schools, and it transposes right out into the streets," said Detective Benjamin Parrish. "If they're able to get away with it in the schools and there's not anyone saying something to them about it, then they incorporate it out on the street and hope law enforcement won't pick up on it."
According to detectives, children as young as 12 years old have admitted to being a member of gang in and around the Wilmington area. According to Parrish, there are at least five different identified gang groups in the Wilmington area.
"Most communities have some type of gang influence," said gang and school violence expert Wayne Sakamotto. "Whether gangs are existing there or there's some kind of influence either through narcotics, drug trafficking or gang members passing through creating some of the havoc in the areas."
Experts say a number of issues contribute to gang involvement in the state.
Many are born into gangs, some do it for the "cool factor," and others do it for money. Experts say much of the violence among children are a result of their media interaction.
According to officials, 71% of youth, ages 8-17, have TVs in their rooms. Experts say programs and movies glorify violence and influence them to do the same.
Experts believe video games also play a crucial role in the gang problems. Eighth grade boys play an average of 23 hours of video games a week, while girls play an average of 12 hours.
Children spend nearly eight hours a day using some form of media, whether it be on the computer, watching TV or playing video games. We should note that number does NOT include the amount of time spent texting each day.
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