Fast Focus: 'Are you concerned about gangs in the Tri-Cities?' Love at home

March 2, 2014 

Having lived many years in the Tri-Cities, it is truly disappointing to see the explosion of gang activity and graffiti that have occurred in the last 10 or so years. For years, the only place in the Tri-Cities you saw graffiti was in the grittiest neighborhoods of east Pasco. Now evidence of gangs and the graffiti they leave is seen throughout the Tri-Cities, whether the graffiti itself or the ugly, scarring remains of it having been removed or simply painted over.

Unlike plain English slogans of simple opinion as "Class of '78" or "Michael loves Wendy," gang graffiti constitutes a subliminal code in an unwritten language few understand. It marks turf and implies hostility, criminal activity and violence. It makes law-abiding folks nervous, fearful, even paranoid of gang activity and related violence. It lowers property values to boot. It takes time and resources to clean up.

Gangs and graffiti are a huge problem in much of America. Once found in only the huge urban slum and crime-filled areas, gangs and graffiti have spread to rural America in less than a generation. And even more maddening is that more and more teens and young adults see gang graffiti as a legitimate right to communicate. That gangsters have a "right" to deface others' private property with their intimidating, violent, non-understandable hate speech for all to see, 24/7.

Graffiti = gangs. Sadly, gangs are primarily people who came from a family with no sense of belonging, proper parenting, love, concern or consistent and appropriate discipline. So gangs are really just a very poor imitation or substitute for a family they never had.

So what is the solution? The 19 years on a school board, a Boy Scouts of America Scoutmaster, and a volunteer ecclesiastical leader, plus parenting my own five boys have taught and re-enforced a precious lesson over and over again. What is the No. 1 thing a father can do to ensure his children never get involved with gangs, stay in school, stay out of trouble with the law, grow up to be law-abiding, productive, happy, fulfilled and contributing members of society? ... love their mother.

-- MICHAEL SCRIMSHER, Burbank Heights

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