The “Oikos” Center in Valencia, operated by the Dominicans, is offering therapy to families whose children have become involved in gangs, such as the “Latin Kings.”
The Oikos Center has a team of psychologists, teachers and lawyers to care of the dozens of teens and young people ages 12 and up who belong to the “Latin Kings,” a gang found mostly in Latin America, with some groups in Eastern Europe and Spain as well. “Most of our kids are boys, although there are some girls too,” said the Center director, Inocencia Rincon.
The main objective of the therapy, which lasts between six months and two years, is to “get the kids to abandon these kinds of groups.” It also “delves into the reasons behind which young people join these gangs and tries to keep them relapsing,” Rincon explained.
Because they feel marginalized and are often left alone at home while both parents are working, young people “see the gangs as a place to socialize, to feel safe and to air their frustrations, often through criminal acts,” Rincon continued. In fact, she said, parents often turn to Oikos when social workers give them an ultimatum that they must do something to help their kids.
“Experience tells us that the help of a team of mediators brings out hidden feelings so they can be better expressed and in the end, in most cases, both the young people involved in gangs and the parents in crisis find a way out of the gangs or a way to reconcile,” Rincon stated.
Oikos also provides services for couples in crisis, parents with children battling educational problems or depression.