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Girls and gangs a growing issue for Island

Although socially deviant young men often dominate the news, as many as ten gangs in Bermuda may be allowing membership to young girls.

Tonight members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority will be holding a symposium to closely examine issues facing young women in Bermuda. The Triple Link to Saving Our Girls and will be held at St Paul AME Church Hall. Speakers will include acting chief officer of the Westgate Facility Dennis Brown, parent and advocate Andrea Burgess, Chief Inspector Tracey Burgess and others.

“From things we have been seeing in the community we realised there is a gap at looking at gang violence as it pertains to girls,” said Kara Simmons, co-Chair for the Education Forum of the Bermuda chapter of the sorority. “We decided to host an education forum to start looking at what is happening to our young girls. We don’t want people to realise there is a problem ten years from now and then start talking about.”

She thought girls’ involvement in gangs was often overlooked because it is usually the young men that make the headlines with negative behaviour such as shooting, theft and violence.

“It’s not that girls aren’t getting caught, but that they are not at the forefront of the gangs,” she said, “even though we know that they are involved. Just from our talks with young women in the community we think that as many as ten gangs have girls as members.”

Delta Sigma Theta, based in the United States, is celebrating its centennial year in 2013 by sending a special torch to chapters all over the United States. Bermuda is only one of two international chapters to receive the torch. The Bermuda chapter wanted to add an education aspect to their celebrations.

They have various programmes that work with young women in the community including one called Delta Jam.

“There are other tough issues for young girls including teen pregnancy and educational factors,” she said. “We want to put programmes out there that start conversations about the situation for girls in the community. We want them to see that they have options.”

Ms Simmons said she initially joined Delta Sigma Theta while at the Berkeley Institute.

“I had a teacher who was a member and she was a phenomenal woman,” said Ms Simmons. “I saw the work she was doing in the community. She really impacted me and my friends, and helped us with development as young women.

“When I graduated I received the Dame Marjorie Bean award. When I learned about the history of the sorority I thought I had to become a member. The sorority helps so many people and it is a sisterhood.”

The event will be held at St Paul AME Church on the corner of Court and Victoria Street tonight from 6pm to 8pm. For information telephone 535-0112 or e-mail rsrobinson@moed.bm.

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Published May 30, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 29, 2013 at 7:11 pm)

Girls and gangs a growing issue for Island

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