Gang life is behind me says LJ from Gloucester, aged 13
WHEN he was just 10 years-old 'LJ' joined a knife-wielding gang of violent thieves.
Now at the tender age of 13 he has left the gang-life behind him after being arrested more times than he can remember.
Known simply as LJ, the former Tredworth Junior School pupil was suspended when he was 10 after beating up a teacher at a previous school - Not Tredworth Junior.
He said: "After that I didn't really know what to do with myself so I started hanging around with a bad crowd, there were about 20 of us all the same age.
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"We had knives and we used to go around beating people up, stealing from them, breaking into houses.
"I've lost count how many times I have been arrested."
Now LJ, who goes to Sandford School, he claims that life is now behind him, and he is encouraging other youngsters not to follow his lead.
He said: "Kids shouldn't get into that kind of thing, it isn't good.
"I'm not in gangs anymore and I don't own a knife anymore either."
LJ now attends a youth group lead by Delroy Ellis.
He said: "LJ has realised that he won't get respect from anyone being a bad boy, but he will if is good.
"He is hoping to go onto performing arts at college and we help him to flourish here."
He added: "There is a big problem in Gloucester of young people getting into the gang lifestyle and people are ignoring it. It has to stop."
Gloucester Inspector Neil Smith said: "We have to be mindful that there is a big difference between groups of children, many of whom gather and behave completely innocently, and what we would term gangs. It is easy to lump both together and come to the conclusion that there is a big problem.
"The reality is that gangs have a certain degree of organisation and hierarchy and are involved to some degree in crime.
"It would be irresponsible to overstate the problem. There are issues around gangs in Gloucester but not on the scale of other cities."