As the Gang Intervention Officer for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-BC (CFSEU-BC) Sergeant Jag Khosa is responsible for providing a combination of community engagement and prevention through gang outreach and proactive intervention across British Columbia. He played a pivotal role in developing CFSEU-BC’s Gang Intervention Team which engages parents and youth to provide anti-gang education and intervention support. Sgt. Khosa believes that empowering parents through education is key when it comes to gang prevention and early intervention. When parents are aware of the early signs of drug trafficking, only then can they reach out for support and seek solutions.
“Under CFSEU-BC’s End Gang Life initiative we are constantly engaging youth and their parents to provide education on the dangers of gang lifestyle. We have noticed that parents lack the knowledge about the issue and hence parent specific workshops were designed by CFSEU-BC to increase awareness, share information about the signs of drug trafficking and what parents can do to intervene.”
Sgt. Khosa encourages parents to empower themselves with not just knowledge on the gang lifestyle but also about other challenges youth face such as bullying, mental health issues and internet safety. “As a parent it can be difficult to juggle work life and home life, but it’s important for parents to be involved in their child’s life and take interest in activities such as their child’s school parent committee or community volunteerism. When children feel valued and feel that they are a part of something, they are less likely to engage in anti-social activities. It also strengthens the bond between the parent and child which fosters trust and open communication.”
He strongly suggests that parents take interest in their child’s daily activities whether it’s around school or work. There are some early signs that parents need to know about if they think their child may be involved in drug trafficking.”If your child is doing good in school and in sports but suddenly he or she starts to withdraw, this may indicate that he or she is struggling with something and needs extra support. If a parent notices this change, they should talk to school staff and fact find before taking the necessary steps to address the issue. Another sign is if your child starts to hang out with people older than him/her. These signs may indicate that your child may be headed down the wrong path.
There are other signs which indicate that someone may be involved in drug trafficking.Time and time again, children commonly lie about their jobs to their parents. We have come across many cases where drug runners tell their parents that they are helping with their friend’s family business or that they work as a security guard to explain their absence during the day or most of the night. The excuses are endless, but the reality can quickly become obvious if you pay attention as a parent. If you notice that your child has money that he/she cannot account for, it may indicate their involvement in drug trafficking.
“I am not encouraging parents to become suspicious of their child’s every action or spy on them”. Parents also need to trust their children and provide space as necessary during their teenage years so they grow into confident and independent adults. However, it is very important and critical to know where your child is at any given time and the type of activities or work that they engage in. It is inevitable that at some point our youth will be exposed to drugs and gang activities, however, it is our responsibility to educate them of the pit falls of the gang life style and empower them to make positive choices.
The ideal way to become aware of various aspects of your child’s life is not to dedicate your time to keeping tabs on what they are doing, but rather letting them come to you, showing them support, and engaging in positive two-way communication. Trust is an essential factor that leads to open communication. It is important to make your child feel safe and valued. An active role and awareness is important to prevent your child from falling prey to the lures of organized crime,” he says.
Sgt Khosa also observes, “I have encountered many youth who are misguided and who choose to believe the countless myths about the realities of gang life, as opposed to facing the truth. The common misconception is that gang life offers a lavish lifestyle including limitless wealth, fancy cars, and nice clothes. All of which can be very appealing, however, due to these assumptions, many young people head down this path without knowing that this lifestyle can lead to drug addiction, a criminal record, jail time and even death.”
It is imperative that we as a community and as parents take action early on to not only support those involved in the lifestyle and encourage exiting but also to prevent youth from getting involved all together. If you feel your child or someone you know may be involved in drug trafficking or may be at-risk of becoming involved and would like support, please reach out to CFSEU-BC’s Gang Intervention Team at 604-897-6023.
For more information on Gang Prevention, please visit www.endganglife.ca