Gangs and Our Youth
Gangs in Surrey are recruiting children as young as 10 years old to do some of their most dangerous work.
Starting in elementary school, when children have increased self-awareness and are developing ideas about how they may or may not “fit in” to their social and academic environment, they become vulnerable to gang recruitment.
During the recruitment process, children may be asked to pick up or deliver illicit drugs, keep watch or drive stolen cars. If caught, they face lower sentences in the youth justice system than an older gang member would in adult court.
"There’s a reason 20 to 30-year-olds are getting [children and youth] to engage in this type of behaviour—because it’s hands down the riskiest behaviour there is. These guys aren’t going to take the risk themselves."
— Jordan Buna, former gang member, now serving on the Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Violence Prevention
Children and youth in gangs are put into life-threatening situations by those who recruit them. It is a dangerous game because most will have to carry out violence acts to prove themselves, which puts them at the centre of gang wars, and at high risk for criminal charges.
In 2017, Canada hit its highest murder rate in almost a decade, driven by a significant increase in gun- and gang-related homicides in B.C.
Older, more entrenched gang members are using younger gang members to carry out dangerous missions, even orders to kill on their behalf. They do this to reduce the risk of retaliation or criminal charges.
"Many of my students have been exposed to the pitfalls of addiction, prostitution and gang life. It has become all too common that students leave elementary school at the age of 12 only to be fully engaged in an addiction within a few years."
— Justin Borsato, Grade 7 Teacher, Britannia Elementary School, Vancouver