A 2009 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report, released only to law enforcement, found gang activity in schoolyards across the state, reports The Tennessean in the second in a series. Local gang recruitment efforts are part of a national problem on the rise this decade, says the 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment. The gangs instigate fights, frighten and intimidate students, and disrupt normal activities. In some schools, classroom instruction has been lost to the threat of violence and resulting grief when violence occurs. In other schools, gangs are not on the radar until something happens.
In one county, an elementary school teacher discovered a third-grader etching gang signs in his notebook. Gangs, regardless of their size, hinder learning in many ways. In Nashville middle schools, students are taught a formalized Gang Resistance Education and Training program by police officers stationed in the schools. There’s no similar program in high schools, which have safe school summits and bring experts and former gang members in to talk to students.