POSTED: Saturday, September 22, 2012 - 9:00pm
UPDATED: Saturday, September 22, 2012 - 9:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — California's San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies will begin talking to Apple Valley third-graders this fall to get an early jump on keeping youth out of gangs.
Authorities said the program was prompted by a trend of children as young as five years old getting involved in gangs.
They attribute that to a lack of family structure and, in some cases, hereditary gang membership where a child's father or brother are involved in gang activity.
The program will include special assemblies, classroom chats and life-skills workshops.
"It's going to take partnerships for us to tackle these kinds of problems," said Tom Hoegerman, Apple Valley school superintendent.
"It's the perfect time to help them make good choices," Hoegerman said.
There are hundreds of confirmed gang members in Apple Valley and deputies hope the new program will help cut off the supply of new members.