Taylor was one of four panelists at a Union Community Partnership meeting at Union Career Source Friday afternoon. Among the issues addressed were teen pregnancy, single-parent families, poverty, unemployment and domestic violence. Gang activity in Union County was also discussed with Taylor pointing out there are branches of three major street gangs — Folk Nation, The Bloods and The Crips — operating in the county.
Taylor said there are also three or four splinter groups that have split off from each of the main gangs and operate in different communities. Though an exact number is not known, based on intelligence gathered by his office, there are hundreds of gang members in Union County, he said.
Taylor called on area churches to get involved in addressing the gang situation and the other problems through Christian witness and other actions.
“I met with the leader of the Folk Nation gang and he could quote me the 10 commandments of the Folk Nation but I bet he couldn’t name the Ten Commandments and that’s sad,” Taylor said. “I just feel like our churches need to get more involved in our community. A lot of churches do a lot of missionary activity in foreign countries, but we have a mission field here in our own backyard. We should be going into our local communities witnessing.
“During the summer months we could have community-based Bible schools and religious-based summer programs,” he said. “That would help occupy the idle time our children have and keep them away from gang activity.”
Taylor said he despises gangs and hates even talking about them, calling them a waste of energy, of lives, of the potential of young people to make a positive contribution to society. He said the community — including the churches and civic organizations — needs to get involved in turning young people away from gangs and other destructive forms of behavior.
Gang members do not come from any specific socioeconomic group and Taylor cautioned against such stereotypes. He said gang members come from all walks of life and parents and the community should never fool themselves into believing that any group is immune to the lure of gang activity. He called on parents to get more involved in their children’s lives to keep them from getting involved with gangs.
“The most important thing is you’ve got to know your child and stay involved in their lives,” he said. “You get them involved in extracurricular activities such as sports or dancing, church or anything that you can know where they are and know what they’re doing and who they’re with. We can’t ever just say ‘my child would never get involved with a gang.’”
Another problem Taylor said churches could help address is single parents needing day care for their children while they look for work. Taylor’s fellow panelist, Deborah Bishop of DSS, said that many of their clients want to work and there are jobs available. However, they have children but no available day care so they are prevented from getting work.
Taylor said more churches should offer day care programs, adding they could also help by providing parenting skills classes to teen and single parents.