District Attorney Dolores Carr announced an ad campaign Thursday that will put stark messages about gang life on billboards, buses and TV commercials.
Carr made the announcement at a press conference Thursday at noon in front of a billboard picturing a cemetery and the words, "Gangs have special places for your children. We can help."
The ad will be seen soon on posters, VTA buses and billboards around Santa Clara County, along with a hotline that parents and others can call for help: (408) 808-FREE.
"We believe the ad has an edge to it," said Nick Muyo, public information officer for the district attorney's office.
Carr reportedly got the campaign idea from a visit to Fresno where a similar ad campaign already exists. County officials will measure the effectiveness of the campaign by how many calls the hotline receives by July. A Web site has been created for the campaign at www.sccgov.org/gangfree.
A TV ad in both English and Spanish portrays a gang member who died from gang violence. He apologizes to his mother and says, "You can make the argument I got what I deserved, but my family and my loved ones didn't deserve what I did to them."
Muyo says gang problems have gotten bad enough in the county that gang members have gone from just targeting rivals to targeting youth who aren't gang members.
"Many times these are kids going to school minding their own business and because they aren't a member of a gang, they are targeted," Muyo said.
The campaign is aimed at various people affected by gangs, from bullied youth to parents to community members. A pamphlet posted on the site explains that "The tougher it gets to be a kid, the tougher it gets to be a parent!"
The Web site includes links to nonprofit and government services and information, including parenting classes run in Mountain View by the Community Health Awareness Council on Wednesday evenings (contact Martha Cravens at (650) 965-2020, ext. 30 or at firstname.lastname@example.org).