Putting destructive labels on a child accomplishes nothing positive for the child, his/her family or our communities.
Demonizing children does not improve public safety
Op Ed published in the Deseret News, by John Mejia, ACLU of Utah Legal Director.
Recently, the Deseret News blared this headline: “Gangs still prevalent in Utah with members as young as 5, police say,” (April 24). The related article quoted a police detective who, speaking at the recent Utah Gang Conference, reported seeing “documented gang members” among our kindergarteners.
I found this statement distressing — but not for the reasons you might think. As an ACLU attorney, a near-lifelong Utahn and a Latino father of two young children, I was distressed that responsible public servants would ever label and stigmatize a child in this way.