Charlotte police say they have documented gang members as young as 7 years old. The Charlotte Observer says in an editorial that “means that somewhere, on one street or the other, a child too young to know what ‘criminal’ means is doing what criminals do — selling drugs, defending territory and, sooner or later, pulling the trigger on a gun.”
The newspaper says, “We should be outraged” and should “do more as a community to attack the economic and social isolation that pushes children toward gangs and crime. Police have documented more than 1,600 gang members and 115 different gangs in the area. The Observer says that the most frightening (and heartbreaking) revelation is that kids are getting into gangs at a much younger age, often during middle-school years. The Observer recommends fighting gangs with intelligence units and law enforcement, creating havoc with existing gangs; reaching kids before they join gangs, and expanding outreach that helps parents obtain skills to get out of poverty.