Art Powell, another former gang member who spent 11 years in prison, has joined forces with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Douglasville Police Department to form a youth against violence class. Powell knows that there are many different factors that can lead to kids joining gangs, and he feels very strongly about the influence of the media. “Thugs, gangsters and hustlers in the street are the new role models of the day… not the basketball players… not the lawyers,” Powell says. “Magazines, sitcoms, commercials, music, everything pretty much promotes or advocates this gangster image, and it’s acceptable in society. So you can’t help but look at the results you’re seeing. What the media projects – that’s what it is.”
Powell’s insight as a former gang member gives him an advantage with youth. “I’m a product of what they are trying to become and I look at the mentality and basically, you have to deprogram the way they think.”
Be sure to tune in for “Keeping Our Kids Safe: GPB Explores Cybersafety Issues and Gang Activity in Georgia” on Tuesday, June 24, beginning at 9 PM with Frontline’s “Growing Up Online,” and followed at 10 PM with Growing Up With Gangs.