Keeping kids safe from gangs - CBS46 News

Keeping kids safe from gangs

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

Gang recruitment inside metro Atlanta schools is a problem.

“Some of them will be doing drugs or they'll be selling drugs, or this and that with guns,” said Dasani Nicholson, a sophomore at Marietta High School.

In response, Cobb County Schools recently created a gang recognition and intervention team to decrease gang presence and activity on campuses.

(MORE: Combating Metro Atlanta's gang problem)

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said the idea is to keep the most vulnerable kids from falling prey to the dangerous gang lifestyle.

“The kids we see are the kids who don't have another option, they're basically out there, they're looking for something in their life and they believe initially these gangs are offering it,” Reynolds said.

Laura Keefe, who runs YELLS, Inc., an after school mentoring program in Marietta, said the outreach has helped improve relationships between police and youth.

“There's so many communities where you don't have that connection and trust and our law enforcement has made that a priority to be here and be engaged,” she said.

YELLS, which stands for Youth Empowerment through Learning, Leading and Serving, offers a safe space for kids to study and gain leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

The teens recently produced a documentary on the revitalization of Franklin Road where the program operates.

Kortni Lawson, 16, a YELLS youth, said she sees changes in her neighborhood.

“A lot of people say it's changed because a lot of people are moving on to Franklin because they're building a lot of new stuff, so they'll say, ‘Oh, Franklin is nice’, and I’m like, I've been telling you all this for the past two years,” she said. 

The group recently held a networking event with the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce.

Dasani said YELLS keeps him focused on the right path.

“They set higher goals for you than you do for yourself sometimes, so it like, it keeps you motivated to keep on going and staying away from that.

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