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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Symposium will address children at risk

Burdened with poverty, lacking parental support and facing a future that appears bleak at best, many of the region's young people to turn to crime and violence, said Lisa Bond-Maupin, New Mexico State University assistant professor of criminal justice.

affiti visible on buildings throughout the region symbolizes that bleakness. Overcrowding at juvenile detention centers predicts an even more tragic future. The question then becomes what communities can do to help young people realize they have options and better choices.

Bond-Maupin said communities share the responsibility to create a society where children are safe, healthy and have educational opportunities. For that reason, NMSU is conducting a symposium March 30 and 31 on social justice and has invited writer-activist Luis J. Rodriguez to lead the event. A former gang member himself, Rodriguez will share his insight about ways to provide young people with a better image of themselves and their potential.

"It's time the voices for viable and lasting solutions be heard," Rodriguez wrote in an article for The Nation.

He believes that we must "realign societal resources in accordance with the following premises: that every child has value and every child can succeed."

His book, "Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A." was an international best seller and was written as a cautionary tale when his own son became intrigued by gangs.

Rodriguez will meet with at-risk young people and conduct visualization and creative writing sessions over two days to help them work through their issues. He also will meet with local community members who serve on the gang task force. And at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 31, in the Music Recital Hall at NMSU, he will present a public lecture on creating community in the middle of violence. The lecture is free.

On Friday, April 1, he will address students in the Anthony area. For more information: (505) 646-5386.

The event is sponsored by NMSU President Michael Martin, the Hot Projects incentive of the Paso Del Norte Foundation, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health and Human Services, NMSU Family Life Center and the Department of Criminal Justice.