Amarillo, TX - Gangs in our area are recruiting younger and younger.
One non-profit organization is spreading awareness before it's too late.
Children and teens in our area are joining gangs, all in an attempt to fit in.
Victory Outreach Amarillo is trying to help put a stop to this growing problem.
"I've seen them as young as nine years old, eight years old. It breaks my heart because I can already see they're on a path that's really going to destroy them when they get much older," says Pastor Greg Ruff, Victory Outreach Amarillo.
Pastor Greg Ruff says they join a gang for many reasons.
"It could start off with a group of kids that really might be trying to stand up for something that's good, that turns into something bad," says Pastor Greg Ruff, Victory Outreach Amarillo.
"A kid would maybe join a gang for either peer pressure to join the gang or maybe even for protection, especially if they're getting bullied or getting harassed," says Corporal Jerry Neufeld, Amarillo Police Department.
The Amarillo Police Department says they see kids pressured to do things they don't necessarily want to do.
"The graffiti, the tagging, maybe some assaults, you know where they're beating up other kids or something to that effect. There is still going to be some narcotic usage going on. Sometimes, even at that age, it can be more serious. There can be drive-by shootings," says Corporal Jerry Neufeld, Amarillo Police Department.
Victory Outreach understands, because at one time, those involved with the organization were in their shoes.
"One of our goals is to start getting into some of these middle schools and some of these high schools and just give a talk to the young kids. We just want to let them know that there is hope. We've been through some of these things and theirs an answer and a solution," says Pastor Greg Ruff, Victory Outreach Amarillo.
They're even kicking off a hotline.
"We're hoping that will draw in more people to seek guidance from people who have actually lived that lifestyle and found a way out," says Sammie Rodriguez, youth director, Victory Outreach Amarillo.
Their first event is a live drama "Caught up in the Game" on April 21st at 6:30p.m. at Palo Duro High School Auditorium.
It's free to the public and is geared toward the youth of Amarillo, to show how gangs, teenage pregnancy and drugs/alcohol are affecting not only our youth but our community as well.
For more information call Pastor Greg Ruff at 806-367-7033, Victory Outreach Amarillo.
If you need guidance or advice call the Victory Outreach Amarillo Hotline: 806-881-4830.