Managing Gangs and School Safety: Denial or Determination?

Posted by on January 17, 2010

An uptick in gang activity in many communities has forced schools around the nation to grapple with school security issues in and around campuses. 

Just since the beginning of this school year last August:

  • A 16-year-old female high school honors student in Long Beach, CA,  was shot and killed while leaving a high school homecoming game. Police reported the victim was an innocent bystander in the middle of two rival gangs engaged in a conflict. 
  • Two 19-year students were shot, and a 10-year-old was hit by a bullet, outside of a Phoenix, AZ, charter school at dismissal. A 16-year-old former student was arrested. Police reportedly believe the incident was gang-related.
  • Middle school students in Yakima, Washington, were caught in the middle of gunfire by two gang members firing as the students were walking home from school.  One male was wounded with a gunshot injury to the arm.


In “Gangs in Schools: Signs, Symbols, and Solutions” (Research Press, 1998), Drs. Arnold Goldstein and Donald Kodluboy advise us:

“A proportionate, considered response early in the evolution of the gang presence will help prevent more serious problems on down the line.  If educators can agree with their colleagues, administration, parents, the community, and the school board that it is better to plan ahead than it is to apologize for not being prepared, all are served.”


School officials too often deny the existence of gangs until a tragedy occurs and they can no longer be denied.

Are your schools being proactive or reactive about gangs? 

Ken Trump

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