A new report takes a closer look at the scope of gang activity in Forsyth County. It also includes the results of student surveys conducted in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Forsyth Futures was hired by the county to conduct a gang assessment. It uses data from law enforcement, the local school system, and interviews with community stakeholders.

There's also a survey of more than 3,000 students. Of that sample, around two-dozen students reported being in a gang. Ten percent of high schoolers surveyed said they believe gangs are in their school, as well as and 2 to 3 percent of middle school respondents.

The assessment also takes a closer look at risk factors for youth gang involvement. These include living in neighborhoods with more gang prevalence, having family members in these groups, and having parents with lower educational attainment and experiencing financial hardship.

Adam Hill, executive director of Forsyth Futures,  says there was a common theme that came up during the surveys and interviews.

“There's a need for the community to step up and provide more supportive resources and make available more activities for youth than necessarily, you know,  this is something wrong with the youth themselves,” says Hill. 

Hill says school attendance is also important. The study revealed that Hispanic students are nearly twice as likely to get suspended than white students, and it's even higher for Black students. Researchers say kids can be more vulnerable to recruitment by gang members when they miss class.

According to the report, law enforcement data from December 2020 shows that there are more than 600 validated gang members in Forsyth County. A majority of them are Black and Hispanic males ages 16 to 26.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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