Gang Experts Warn About Increasing Gang Activity in Kalihi

Published: May. 14, 2007 at 9:35 PM HST|Updated: May. 15, 2007 at 7:40 PM HST
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Deb Spencer-Chun
Deb Spencer-Chun
Fairington High School in Kalihi
Fairington High School in Kalihi

By Beth Hillyer

KALIHI (KHNL) - 20 years ago Sid Rosen walked away from his job as a professor of social work and started, "Adult Friends for Youth".

Since then counselors from this group have intervened with members of 32 Hawaii gangs.

Now as Rosen announces his retirement, he fears a surge in gang activity at some schools on Oahu.

In the mid 90's rival Kalihi gangs turned violent. Sid Rosen RECALLS, "It was 1995 when a couple of boys got murdered from Kuhio Park Terrace".

For gang members it was an eye for an eye, until...

"I believe very strongly that the staff of Adult Friends for Youth working with these groups was a very powerful influence in bringing these ugly gang wars to an end," says Rosen.

Rosen fears Kalihi gang activity is again reaching the boiling point. The hotbed he says is Farrington High School, "Some weapons being used, we are seeing graffiti and a lack of care again for the community".

Sid Rosen retires in July and Deb Spencer-Chun takes over. She's identified 14 gangs at Farrington. Spencer-Chun explains, "There is tension. The kids are uncomfortable. They are not sure if they should be coming onto campus.They are afraid that sometimes if they just walk onto campus the other kids will see them and they will get into fights."

Rosen agrees, "What we are terrified by is that if we don't start working with them the problem is just going to explode further. We have a chance right now that is the message."

Every November a fundraiser for Adult Friends for Youth supports gang intervention programs.

In his retirement Sid Rosen plans to write a second book about turning teens around.