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Lisa remembers the moment she knew her life had been overtaken by the gang. Her boyfriend of six months had called and asked her for a favour. Half an hour later she was in the kitchen of a small flat in north-west London looking at 2kg of crack cocaine.


The first time I saw Carlos, I liked the way he looked: Not too tall, brown eyes, black hair, and a nice dresser. He also had an enchanting personality. He was very friendly and used to joke around with everybody, even though he was sometimes a little annoying. I started hanging out with Carlos and my friend Katherine in the 9th grade.

We used to go out for lunch almost every day. The three of us became best friends and we looked out for each other. If one of us had a problem, we always tried to help in any way we could.

After two years of friendship, Carlos and I started talking about having a closer relationship. In the fall, he asked me to go out. I said yes! At first I felt really strange, because one day he was my friend and the next day my boyfriend. But I gave myself some time. Our relationship at that time was pretty good. We had a couple of fights, but nothing big. I always thought that having a serious relationship was easy, and at first it was.

The female gang member

But I kept hearing Carlos make comments about gangs and it surprised me, because our school is pretty tame. Once he told me he had been thinking of becoming a Latin King. I think he was looking for support, because his father was in jail in his native country and his mother drank a lot. Katherine and I convinced him not toor so I thought. He said he was only thinking about ing because of his older brother.

They are best friends and Carlos looks up to him. But then, three months after we began dating, he got into a fight. I found out from Katherine. It was a stupid fight. He just saw a person from another gang, he said. I was very suspicious because it was becoming obvious that Carlos was involved in a gang. Another time, Katherine made a comment about an argument he had with gang members and I started asking her questions about it.

She told me that Carlos was indeed part of the Latin Kings, and that he got into another fight because he was trying to leave the Kings. I never liked gangs. I feel that most kids get into them because they feel lonely, with no support from family and friends.

They find a bunch of people who supposedly care about them and their problems.

He knew there was no way I could accept him being part of a gang. I knew something was going on. But deep inside I wanted to believe him when he said he had nothing to do with gangs.

I was depressed, worried, and, most of all, disappointed. He treated me great and was always a gentleman. If he had trouble getting out of the gang, at least I could have been there supporting him. As I was trying to figure out how I felt, things got worse.

A week after Katherine told me Carlos was in a gang, somebody told my mother that he was part of the Kings. After my mother found out, she forbade me to see Carlos anymore. After my mother found out, I told Carlos that I knew he was in a gang. He understood that she was concerned about me.

Even though I was really mad, I understood his situation and how bad he was feeling. It was hard to tell him, but I needed time to figure things out. And Carlos needed time to decide what he wanted and to solve his problems. He respected my decision, but he was very angry. And besides, we still liked each other.

A blog by the national crime prevention council

Then one day, a month after we split up, he was officially out. The Kings stopped bothering him because his brother was one of the leaders. Even though I had broken up with Carlos, my feelings changed. I really liked this guy.

He was not a bad person, although he had lived a pretty ugly life. But he learned from his mistakes and was trying to organize things in his life. It took a couple of hours of talking and listening to each other to finally get back together. He told me that he still really liked me, which was part of the reason he got out of the gang.

The male gang member

I had thought we would be together again, but I wanted to give myself time to think. Even if he lied to me before, I believe him now because he has changed so much. During this last month, Carlos has learned to be a more open person. Even his family is doing better. His mother is getting professional help for her drinking problem. But I believe that everything happens for a reason. I learned to stand up for myself with my boyfriend, and became wiser and stronger emotionally.

Maybe what I feel for him now is not love, but maybe it is.

There is no reason to make the same mistake twice. YCteen publishes true stories by teens, giving readers insight into the issues that matter most in young people's lives. Follow us on:. Permission is automatically granted to individual teachers to copy this story for use with a single class or group in nonprofit educational settings. Check our permissions for all other uses.

Summer Writing Workshop: Apply Today! Tweet Print After two years of friendship, Carlos and I started talking about having a closer relationship.

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