[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/14/art_ypwr_perry.jpg
caption=”Phalyn Perry, 16, encourages young people to make better choices by avoiding gang life.”]
We see lots of stories about the perpetuation of gang violence from generation to generation. It isn’t until a member of a new generation stops and says, “enough” that the cycle stops. That’s what 16-year-old Phalyn Perry did.
She grew up in the gang neighborhood of the Raymond Avenue Crips in Los Angeles. Her father was an original member of the Crips, involved in violence and selling drugs. He went to prison when she was 10 years old for a 19-year sentence on robbery. Phalyn visits her father in prison and says he has now changed his ways. She hopes she will be able to deliver his message of non-violence outside the prison bars. She says, “He always tells me, ‘Bonehead, you’re a very intelligent young girl. Don’t chase boys, chase your school work because it will all pay off in the long run.'”
Today, she actually chases motivation. As a member of Common Unity Reaching Everyone, or CURE, and A Better L.A., Phayln uses her story to inspire others to block out the negativity and hang with the right crowd like she did. Through weekly community events, she inspires other young people growing up with temptation to join a gang, to also say, “enough.”
Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview