Program Helping Keep Teens Out of Gangs

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- A mentoring program that keeps Latino teens in school and out of gangs may help keep your family safer.

Raul works carefully on his stats homework.

"I come from a family that no one has gone to college so me even finishing high school is a big step in education in my family," said Raul.

He is part of the Shenandoah Valley Scholars Latino Initiative, a mentoring program that encourages Latino students to go to college.

"I am going to become a senior is even going to be more pressure of what is the right path for me," said Raul.

Cpl. Bryan Horowitz runs the CHARGE Gang Task Force and works to keep people on the right path and said kids between the ages of 11 and 15 join gangs.

"We do see a somewhat higher portion of Latino or Hispanic juveniles becoming involved in gang activity," said Horowitz.

He said the mentoring program can keep teens off the street and out of gangs.

"That is one of the ideal situations to have to expose the youth to role models that are involved in bigger and better things," said Horowitz.

The task force said the Spotswood Trailer Park is one of the areas impacted by a Latin gang called Sur13.

241 people are linked to this gang, while 43 people are linked to the Latin Kings and 53 people to MS-13.

For Raul, gangs are out of the question and college is his only goal.

"They can actually see someone going for them, rooting for them, seeing that they can actually accomplish something in their educational career," said Raul.

Horowitz said most of the gangs are not Latino-based.

If you have any suspicion of gang activity, you can contact the CHARGE Gang Task Force.