Category Archives: American Street Gangs

Graffiti Nation – Part 2/2

When it comes to combating tagging and graffiti, Michael Howard is an individual who had an idea to counter the blight with art. He said, “I figured if you address the root cause — that kids need to be creative, have their self-esteem nurtured and a safe place to express themselves and channel their energies into something positive that benefits the community — then you could reduce graffiti.”

At the time Howard had this idea, he was a teacher at the Juvenile Hall school in Orange County. While there, he launched Operation Clean Slate (OCS).

I may have read of this before but was reminded of OCS in the April 2011, Costco Connection.

The inspiration for creating Operation Clean Slate came to Howard while driving to Los Angeles. He’d seen graffiti many times, but this time he saw a way to deal with it.

I salute Howard for his dedication and effort. However, I disagree with the often misused term of self-esteem.  The self-esteem movement, which started in the US in the 1960s was misguided from the start.  Children do not need help nurturing a false sense of self-esteem.

Youth need positive choices to help guide them in other directions and this is what Howard offered. I doubt if he reached many gang bangers (children and teens that belong to gangs) that spend their nights marking territory with gang signs, but I’m sure he did appeal to the creative energy of taggers.

Street gangs are primitive and often dangerous tribes that exist in the barrios and ghettos of America. Most of these street gangs deal in drugs and violence.  Some have been known to initiate young recruits by having them shoot and possibly kill someone (often strangers to the gang bangers) during a drive by.

Most youth that join gangs have no choice due to the pressure in the barrio or ghetto. Only determined loving parents involved in a child’s life stand a chance to keep their children out of these gangs.

I taught in a gang-infested area of La Puente and West Covina from most of 1975 to 2005.

Parents that live in the barrios and ghettos where these street gangs exist may consider contacting individuals such as Howard to see if he can help keep their children off the streets and away from gangs.  Positive activities such as Operation Clean Slate are one way to do this—not wasting time building a false sense of self-esteem in a child that often leads to narcissism as an adult.

Return to Graffiti Nation – Part 1 or learn of Presidents Bush and Obama’s
Ignorant Gaff


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine
& Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


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Graffiti Nation – Part 1/2

Graffiti is a blight on America and may be found in Europe and other nations too. Driving down urban freeways and highways in the US, drivers often see graffiti on billboards and freeway signs.

The cost to paint out graffiti at the high school where I taught until 2005 was about $10,000 a year. I often arrived soon after the gates were unlocked about 6:00 AM.  My first class was usually 8:00.

The national cost is much higher than that ten grand one school district spent to keep one of its campuses graffiti free.

As one example demonstrates, the city of Los Angeles spent $3.7 million dollars to paint over, “Just one of the MTA’s tags — its initials painted 57 feet high and a quarter-mile-long on the Los Angeles River concrete embankment.… The maneuver underscores authorities’ exasperation with a subculture that prizes prolific defacement of public property, including buses, street signs and freeway overpasses, and costs taxpayers millions to remove.” Source:

At Nogales High School in La Puente, California where I taught for sixteen of the thirty years I was a public school teacher in the US, after the daytime-custodians arrived to set up the campus before students arrived (putting out trash cans and inspecting the buildings for damage), one custodian climbed into an electric-powered flat-bed cart and spent an hour or so driving along the covered walkways around campus with paint the color of the school sitting on the flat bed ready for use.  Every morning, he would discover gang signs and graffiti on the lockers, doors and walls and cover them with fresh paint.

Metro Tagger Assassins (MTA)

After our daughter started high school, we joined her each morning on the one-mile walk to school and part of the walk was behind a super market, which was often covered with tagging.

Tagging is different from gang signs. Tagging is the signature of a graffiti artist or a crew of taggers attempting to become immortal and/or infamous by marking up as many buildings and walls as possible.

Some of this tagging is creative and artistic in nature but most is an eyesore.

A few of these misguided youths have fallen from freeway overpasses where they cling to chain link fences like cockroaches climbing a wall.  These urban cockroaches hang above the traffic spraying their unique tag and some fall to be hit by traffic sometimes killing drivers and passengers in cars and trucks.

Continued on April 12, 2011 in Graffiti Nation – Part 2 or discover A Ten Year Old Named Oscar


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


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The Parenting Dilemma

Parents are the primary key to a child’s future success and development.  One example is a neighbor couple that raised two children—a son and a daughter both over 30 today and college graduates.

I understand the son has a Ph.D. in alternative energy and the daughter a BA in design from a university in Hawaii.  The son has had no problem finding jobs that pay well. He even bought a home at a time when many Americans are losing theirs.

Recently, the mother and I talked about the parenting debate that was sparked by an essay in The Wall Street Journal. It was obvious that she wasn’t an “average” American parent but she wasn’t a Tiger Mother either.

It seems this neighbor mother told her son she felt as if Amy Chua, the Tiger Mother, had attacked her in The Wall Street Journal essay, but the son with the Ph.D. explained what Chua wrote wasn’t meant to be a criticism of all American parents.

Later, the mother sent me an e-mail saying, “The style of parenting I like involves appropriate choices and consequences. 

“The child gets to chose between walking or riding to school but not between going to school or not, between doing homework after school or after dinner—not whether or not to do it.

“If the child refuses to wear a coat on a cold day then they get cold and next time they wear a coat (natural consequences).”

A CBS News Report says the average American teen sends 17,000 text messages a month.

The mother still couldn’t bring herself to read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua’s memoir.  She said it would make her angry.

However, I am angry, but at a different sort of parent—the ones that followed the “Pied Piper of Self Esteem” in the 1960s making my job as a teacher more difficult for much of my teaching carrier (1975 – 2005).

A fellow teacher and friend still in the classroom says it’s worse now than when I left in 2005. He spends so much time documenting contacts with the “average” American parent he doesn’t have time to correct and record grades. 

He had to hire a retired teacher to correct for him at $25 an hour.

Studies show the “average” American parent talks to his or her child less than five minutes a day while the “average” American child spends about 10 hours a day watching TV, social networking on Facebook, playing video games or sending text messages on mobile phones.

Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D. described a different parenting model, “On average, Asian parents use more discipline and insist upon hard work more than Western parents. And on average, their kids do better.”

Dr. Twenge writing in Psychology Today said, “Asian Americans have the lowest self-esteem of any ethnic group in the U.S., but achieve the best academic performance (and, among adults, the lowest unemployment rate).”

“Oh, well, everyone does it!”  However, does that make it right?

If the “average” Asian-American parent represents strict parenting and the soft, obsessive self-esteem parent represent the “average” American, what do we call parents between the two, which might describe my neighbor?

After all, “average” does not mean everyone. Average is a “norm” or the largest represented group in a population, which still leaves plenty of room for millions of horrible parents that beat their children and sexually molest them.

Child says, “(American) children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect.… Ninety percent of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members.”

Did you know there are almost a million teens or children that belong to violent street gangs in the US? LA is the street-gang capital of America with 100,000.

Most of the gang bangers I taught earned FAILING grades and a thousand phone calls couldn’t change that.

Does “Parenting with Choices and Natural Consequences” describe the middle ground between the soft, self-esteem “norm” and the “average” Asian-American Tiger Parent?

Learn how to Recognize Bad and/or Good Parenting


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


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A Good Teacher Beats a “Bad” Student

After I watched the video to the end, I Googled the topic and read several responses that made me angry since most are feeling sorry for the kid and not the teacher.

I taught in a tough, barrio high school surrounded by multi-generational, violent Latino gangs.

Over the years, I had hard-core gang bangers known as shooters in my classroom—meaning they had shot and killed rival gang bangers. One kid I taught had a price on his head from another gang and had killed several rivals. Not a year went by that one of these gang bangers didn’t threaten me.

Once, I witnessed a drive by shooting from my classroom as school let out with students streaming out of school while parents waited.  Another time, there was a shooting outside my classroom at night while I was working late with the editors of the school paper.

What I witnessed Sheri Davis doing to this dysfunctional kid was something I came close to doing several times during the thirty years I taught. I don’t blame her. I know what it is like to get angry with a kid like the one she beat. 

What she says in the tape is true. The system must change to deal with disruptive kids like the one she assaulted.  Instead, the system is too soft and talks to kids as if they actually listen and comply with all the self-esteem soft talk. Instead, those types of kids learn to play the system while they continue to terrorize teachers and other students.

Mr. D was in charge of discipline at the tough high school where I taught and he said 5% of the kids at our high school earned 90% of the 20,000 plus referrals written each year.   Having dealt with these types of kids and their parents, I’m sure the only thing those parents are thinking about is how much money they are going to get.  I can see the bumper sticker on their car now: GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY AND BEAT MY KID.

Watch the video but watch it all—hear what the lawyer and Ms. Davis have to say: Beating Caught on Tape: Teacher Speaks

I read once that there is an average of 5,000 students assaults on teachers in America annually but we don’t hear this type of outrage about that. After all, teachers are second-class citizens in the US who are the only Americans who can be tried for the same crime twice.

Assaults on teachers on the rise
Teachers in crisis: 1 school, 16 assaults

So, I call out to all those comments that expressed outrage at Sheri Davis beating one problem-causing idiot.  I do not feel sorry for this kid. After hearing about his behavior on a daily basis, there’s only one place for him—the US Marines for six years or prison and throw away the key.

What did you say or do when you read about a teacher being beat up by kids in school? Probably, you just shrugged and forgot about it as soon as possible. After all, in America, teachers are like broken glass to be stepped on and ground into the pavement.


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About Bullies – Part 2/3

“What would you do if we jumped you, Mr. Lofthouse?”

My response was always the same. I’d say, “I wasn’t trained to fight. The Marines trained me to kill and that’s what I did in Vietnam. So, I will do my best to kill anyone who attacks me. If you or anyone else wants to jump me, do your best to put me out of action as fast as possible, because I’m going to do everything I can to kill the first person inside my reach.”

“You can’t do that,” was the common response.  As if the rules or laws in this “politically correct” country were on the side of the criminal, bully or gang banger.  Although the death penalty is another topic, it seems that those politically correct and properly anointed people that go out of the way protecting the rights of hard-core violent criminals should be boiled in oil.  After thirty minutes naked in boiling oil from toes to chin, if they live, we do what they want.

What bothered me the most was that I couldn’t carry a weapon.  In Vietnam, I carried several weapons and grenades.  Several times, I had a grenade launcher.

 See Bullies Part 1


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About Bullies – Part 1/3

I don’t have respect for bullies (“bullies are kids who have tremendous low self-esteem”). That’s probably one of the reasons why I joined the Marines after high school—so I would be tougher and more dangerous.  Most bullies are cowards and won’t fight if they think you will stand up to them. Bullies also tend to be organized like a pack of wolves (no insult to wolves, but that is a fact). There are two types of bullies: the physical kind and the verbal kind, who enjoy belittling kids that don’t appear capable of defending themselves.  Some bullies fit both descriptions.

Then there is the pack of what appeared to be normal kids who will ostracize an individual who doesn’t fit into an acceptable social group.  When I was teaching, I usually stood up for the outcast too.

I was a victim of bullies in grade school and ostracized by the social butterflies in high school. As a teacher, every year, at least one mouthy bully, usually a member of a local street gang, Puente 13, would ask, “What would you do if we jumped you, Mr. Lofthouse?

Kids that bully or ostracize others that do not fit the social norm remind of a flock of chickens that will peck the runt of the flock to death.

What set off this series of posts on bullies was a piece on Why Kids Get Bullied and Rejected.


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