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Dr Archeville

[PSA Vignette] Gabriel: Anti-Gang Message

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Televisions all across Freedom City, but especially in Southside

December 20, 2010

The blank screen suddenly opens to a video of a couple dozen young children having fun in a playground. Then it switches to teenagers sitting around a school lunch table, laughing and eating. Once more it changes, this time to college students cheering and enjoying a concert. Now it's adults, sitting in a living room with a roaring fire, chatting and sipping on drinks. The video stops, and suddenly the screen displays four pictures, one of each of the previous scenes. A rich baritone voice begins speaking, albeit with no visible source at this time.

“Human beings are, at a fundamental level, social. We interact with other people on a daily basis. Many of our best memories are those we made with other people. We try to surround ourselves with family and friends.”

Suddenly, the pictures change, to various shots of lonely individuals.

“But sometimes, that doesn't happen. We find ourselves lonely, and we get desperate, until some people resort to any means they can find, just to make the loneliness stop.”

The entire screen is the picture of a “generic” gang of teenagers and twenty-somethings, all holding pistols and posing aggressively. Suddenly, a man walks into view in front of the picture. He is clothed in white, and it's quickly apparent he's the superhero Gabriel!

“And it's times like those that many younger people choose to join gangs. As much as we may not want to believe it, statistics bear this out.”

The pictures go away, and as Gabriel begins to talk and speak on statistics, the display behind him changes appropriately.

“First, let's look at some root causes. Look at these numbers for kids living with only one parent in Freedom City. Here are the number of kids living in the foster system or in outright orphanages. The number of children who report feeling like a social outcast among their; this is the estimated actual number of children who experience this..”

The numbers are soberingly high. Gabriel's grave expression and tone of voice reflect the subject matter at hand.

“And here are the number of teenagers joining some sort of gang or similar group each year. Notice how this number is going up? However, correlation is not causation, so let's be more direct. This is the percentage of gang members who fit into one of the above categories; kids from broken homes, or kids who experience notable social problems. The question is, of course, why.”

The statistics vanish, replaced by a small collection of photos of gangs, or individual gang members. One notable thing is that almost every ethnicity is present in some way or another.

“Gangs today give their members a sense of community, solidarity, and even purpose. Members report that after joining, they feel better about themselves, as they are often emotionally encouraged by their fellows. And the sense of focused purpose many of their activities can give seem to help them...at least in the short term.”

Now the screen displays what's likely a stylized photo, with several rows of bodies under white sheets. Again, statistics overlay the picture as Gabriel speaks.

“But being in a gang is a dangerous life. Look at the number of gang members killed in inter-gang warfare each year. As well as the number killed by solo super-villains and other such parties. Here's the number killed during confrontations with the police and federal authorities.”

The picture switches to several shots of men and women in prison clothes, sitting in small, barred cells.

“Of course, then we have to look at the numbers in prison, on probation, or even facing enforced community service. Staggering, isn't it? But what can we do about it?”

The screen goes blank for a time, before displaying the information that Gabriel references as he speaks.

“First, I urge families to talk to each other. Parents, try to help your kids feel like they are loved, at least at home. Give them a safe place, and try to encourage them to make some friends. Kids, cut your family a bit of slack. If your parents just seem tired a lot, maybe they're working hard for your sake. Don't be afraid to talk to them.

That said, I understand that, sometimes, even family doesn't feel safe. If any child, teenager or younger, ever feels they need help, please call one of these numbers. Your privacy will be respected, but you will get the help you need.

If you feel like you just need to talk to someone who will listen, and try to help you to the best of your ability, call one of these numbers. These people really, truly care.

Finally, anyone currently in a gang, who wants out, please call these numbers. Again, your privacy will be respected, and they will talk you through steps to keep yourself and your family safe. There are other options for your life, and there is hope. It's not too late.

Good night, and God bless.”

The screen behind him goes blank, and Gabriel walks off to the side, before a quick burst of “sponsored by” messages flash on the screen.

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