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Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.
Gangs

Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Monsters

The lifestyles and life choices of parents can keep kids out or push them into gangs.

May 28, 2009  |  by Richard Valdemar - Also by this author

There is an old Mexican folk story that goes something like this. A young bandit was captured after years of horse thievery, robbery, and violence in the small ranchos and pueblos around his hometown in Chihuahua. He was tried and convicted and sentenced to be hanged in the town plaza.

It happened that his execution day was on the day that this part of Mexico celebrated Mother’s Day. So his last request was for someone to ride out to his parents’ ranch and bring his mother to the plaza so he might say his goodbyes.

The townspeople honored his last request. So after a few hours, the condemned man’s mother began walking up the scaffold to comfort her condemned son. To the horror of the assembled crowd, the condemned bandit, hands tied behind his back, leaped on his elderly mother in an attempted to bite out her fragile throat.

The executioner, the police, and even the village priest pulled the mad bandit from the old woman with sharp shouts, blows, and kicks. When they finally stood the bandit up to complete the hanging, the priest chastised the bandit saying, “Have you no shame? How can you attack your mother knowing you are about to meet the supreme judge of us all?”

The bandit shocked the crowd with his reply. “From my youth this woman ordered and taught me to steal, first eggs and then chickens from the neighboring ranches. It is she that led me into a life of crime. While I was still a boy, she protected me and hid me from the law when I was wanted. So it is my mother who has placed my neck into this hangman’s noose.”

In only a few moments, the good citizens of the pueblo set the condemned bandit free, and they hung his mother. Her body was left on the scaffold for many days as food for the vultures and as an example to the parents of the area.

I have always loved children, even the kids of gang bangers that I have arrested. As an Aryan Brotherhood member once remarked, “We were not born monsters; we all started out as someone’s bundle of joy.” Monsters are made, and often they are made into monsters by bad parents.

And it’s not just mothers. Sometimes fathers who are monster gang members themselves raise second- and third-generation gang members. They indoctrinate toddlers into the gangster lifestyle. They dress them in gangster clothing. and they teach them to speak gang slang.

I’ll give you an example. One day my team conducted a parole search of a Nazi Low Rider. Coincidently, it happened on his four-year-old son’s birthday. We found a birthday cake fashioned into a Nazi flag with a huge black swastika in the center. The little boy’s birthday card was handmade by his convict father and featured “The Fourteen Words” pledge of the hate-filled white supremacist.

Nazi Daddy was unusual in more ways than one. Most often gangster dad is absent or just not involved in raising the child at all.

By far the most common situation is that “bundle of joy” is abandoned by gangster dad and left to be raised by the mother. Some of these moms are also monster gang members themselves. and they might also raise the child as a gang banger.

But a more likely scenario is that the mother will continue to pick bad male partners who are bad male role models for her male child and be a poor parent herself. The child will then be extremely vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse.

If she works; monster mom’s money is spent on drugs and partying with boyfriends. She will be only randomly engaged in the young child’s upbringing, and the child will be raised in the street. If she does not work, a Welfare lifestyle follows. That means the poverty and ignorance of the ghetto or barrio will take their toll, and the child will learn racial resentment and distrust of authority. For such children, making money by any means necessary and street survival are the only laws. He will find companionship and justification among the other street urchins like himself, and they will form defensive groups for protection. These defensive groups will evolve into more predatory pack animal groups.

But this is not the inevitable end. Many mothers are shocked when their “bundle of joy” first shows symptoms of “monster-itus.” And they attempt to correct them. And even in middle school, late but effective remedies can still be successfully employed. I know that many of these children are straightened out when Mom gets involved and intervenes in their early flirtation with gangs, drugs, and crime.

But for this to work it must be a significant lifestyle change. I have seen this occur when these single mothers get involved with programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Children of Alcoholics, Teen Challenge, Tough Love, DARE, and community church outreaches. After all, no mother really wants to see her son in a grave, prison, or on death row.

Another kind of mother enables her child’s gang activity but she claims to be oblivious to the fact that he child is growing up evil. She will deny that her boy is a gang banger, drug dealer, thief, and murderer. She knows where that extra money that her unemployed children might give her comes from, but she chooses to ignore that fact. Since she could not have ever raised her “bundle of joy” to become a monster, it must be someone else’s fault. She is convinced that school principals, police officers, probation officers, and parole officers are levying false accusations at her boy. Her boy is only being persecuted because he is black, or Hispanic, or Asian, or white!

These women are the Grape Street Godmother Betty Days of the community. And they are supported in their enabling coddling codependency by some judges, local politicians, and gang programs run by other gang members. I believe that many of these troubled kids want discipline, structure, and boundaries. They want someone to pay attention to them even if it is negative attention.

Also, don’t think that monsters aren’t being raised in suburban and rural areas. Alcoholism, divorce, drugs, and sexual abuse can touch any family. These are sometimes causation factors for juvenile gang attraction for some mainstream kids. This includes cops’ and preachers’ kids, too.

Almost at every training seminar I am approached by members of the law enforcement community who have one of these problem kids. Commonly these juveniles don’t choose the Crips, Bloods, or Cholo gangs. They gravitate toward the alternative gang styles like taggers, party crews, goths, punks, and skin heads.

The beginnings of these alternative gang lifestyles are not readily recognized by the average parent, including police officer parents. Some of these parents are also in denial about their child’s involvement. This has led to some tragedies even in these otherwise stable families.

The responsibilities of being a parent are awesome. And we have all have made mistakes. Mothers normally have the greatest and longest lasting influence in the raising of children. This cannot be substituted for by any kind of child care, school programs, Scouts, sports, church, television, or the Internet.

Paying real attention to our children when they need it most and having the courage to face and correct faults in their early years will save the majority of them from a lifetime of misery.
However, not all monsters are raised by bad or negligent parent. In some rare cases, in spite of all we might do, some kids just choose to become monsters.


Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

David Moore S-55 @ 5/29/2009 8:35 PM

Excellent! That was one hell of an article with major Impact we would be wise to listen & learn from. I have always enjoyed wisdom told and from the heart of someone who has fought 33 years to save them from themselves even one victory is what it's all about!!...Not only in gangs but life in general and it could mean the difference between success or failure, life or death! I know I don't test the wind before I make a decision or attempt an action that is right. I got the teeth marks to prove it! From one Sgt to another, thanks!

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