The gang problem in Chester
The city of Chester continues its renaissance, even while still battling some old problems – and perceptions.
None is bigger than the problem of young people and gangs, and the drug violence that often feeds off of it.
That’s one of the reasons we devoted our Sunday lead to the problem.
Too many young lives have been ruined. Too many makeshift memorials have sprung up on city streets. Too many vigils have been held in the hopes of seeing this street violence ended.
None of it has worked.
Perhaps most telling in the story were comments by Stephen E. Kauffman, an assistant professor at Widener who specializes in social work.
Kauffman makes the case that in many incidents that gang takes the place of an absent family life for Chester’s youths.
“It’s their family,” Kauffman said. “Gangs serve all the functions of family. Their commitments are to the gang.”
That, perhaps more than any other issue, is the challenge that confronts this city.
A lot of good things have been happening in the city. But it continues to be hounded by street violence, fomented by this notion of gangs and the turf wars that too often erupt from them.
It’s time to make these kids in Chester part of our family again.
Until they are, until they have a family outside of the gang, Chester will continue its struggle.