There was another drive-by shooting in Wilmington this month. Once again the issue of gangs in our city rises to the surface. This isn't the big city, but still we have this big city problem.
Recent studies indicate that all four high schools in New Hanover County report evidence of gang activity on their campuses. There are reports of gangs in Brunswick and Pender counties as well. It's a serious and daunting problem.
Gang violence was once characterized by fist-fights. Then it was elevated to knives, and now it's guns and drive-by shootings. And gang-on-gang violence has taken its toll on innocent bystanders as well.
Research shows that kids join gangs for protection, to gain acceptance, to build self-esteem, and to have a sense of family that may be missing from their lives. Many kids who join gangs have no father, but those who do, may not have a father in their life that accepts them for who they are and pledges to be there for them no matter what.
We don't have a solution for the gang problem. I wish we did. But Father's Day is this Sunday, so we'd like to issue a challenge to all of you fathers out there. If you haven't done so lately, tell your kids you love them. Tell them you are there for them. Tell that neighbor kid who doesn't have a dad in his or her life you care about them too. Maybe they'll think twice about becoming a member of a gang. It won't solve our gang problem, but it's a start. Have a Happy Father's Day.