Slate: “Why Kids Join Gangs”

This report is part of Kids Imprisoned, a project produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, a national investigative reporting project by top college journalism students and recent graduates from across the country. It is headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Ruben Saldaña was 12 when he joined a gang after moving to a part of Homestead, Florida, that he called a ghetto. By 13, he was leading his “junior gang.”

“I became a gang member before I even hit puberty,” said Saldaña, who now runs a mixed martial arts diversion program for kids in high-crime areas in central Florida.

Saldaña said the crimes committed by juvenile gangs had little purpose.

“It wasn’t even like Chicago organizations who were fighting over millions of dollars of drugs,” he said. “It was foolishness. Children who were misguided by misguided kids. The blind leading the blind. And then that’s what I became, a blind leader.”

Slate – Why kids join gangs.