Most of the people who comment on the issue of gangs seem to be of the opinion that the time to start working towards keeping kids from joining gangs is just when they are on the cusp of entering the teenage years. But I am of a different opinion. To my mind, the best time to initiate the interventions aimed at keeping kids from joining gangs is during the early childhood.
The early interventions to keep kids from joining gangs should mostly focus on bringing kids up with a high degree of self-esteem. Kids with healthy levels of self-esteem will eventually be less vulnerable to the pressure to join gangs. You have to understand that kids join gangs in search of identity, and as a result of peer pressure. But kids who are brought up nicely, and who therefore have high levels of self-esteem, have their identities well established, and are also less prone to peer pressure. They are therefore also less prone to joining gangs.
Just as the authorities invest huge sums of money to sustain the various government benefits (including, in the case of Georgia, those under GA Compass), so should adequate resources be invested in educating parents on the right ways to bring up their kids. Also, a bit of the money we spent buying Russian Airlines tickets for officials to shuttle between Washington and Moscow carrying out activities of dubious value can, instead, be diverted to worthwhile social programs, such as the one recommended above. If we get this right, then we won’t have to expend resources later on trying to tackle gangs and the social ills associated with them.