Gang Prevention for Parents

Gangs Defined
Gangs are groups of people who form an allegiance for a common purpose and commit violent, unlawful or criminal activities. Today’s street gangs may claim control over a certain territory in their community, and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation there. Gangs are often in the sale of drugs.

Who Joins Gangs?

Gang members generally range in age from 13-21 years old but can be as young as 9 years old. Those who join gangs often have a low self esteem, feel uninvolved at home, do poorly in school, and have a hard time making decisions and communicating with others. Many come from single parent homes. Most gang members are boys, but 10% of all gang members are girls and the number is rising.

Why Do Kids Join Gangs?
Kids join form many reasons and each case is individual. However reasons include: Excitement and fun, a sense of belonging, companionship, peer pressure, attention or status, financial gain, intimidation, protection, living in gang infested area or having a family member in a gang. Some other reasons included:
  • No hope
  • Too much unstructured non-supervised time
  • Artificial strength in number while committing a crime
  • Lack of positive social activity
  • Not wanting to feel different
  • Trying to emulate older kids
  • Not enough attention at home, lack of parental interest and support
  • Media that glorifies violence
  • Parental denial of gang membership
What Are The Dangers Of Being In a Gang?
Gangs often have guns and drugs, exposing kids to the dangers of both. Members can be seriously hurt or killed during gang fights or criminal acts. Gang membership can also hamper education, since schools are viewed negatively by gangs. Extensive Police records limit future employment opportunities. Families of gang members also face danger for their own safety from feuding gang members.

Signs Of Possible Gang Involvement

  • Sudden poor school grades and disinterest in school
  • Withdrawal from family activities
  • Use of unknown vocabulary (gangs have many slang words)
  • Sudden change in friends (may refuse to tell you about them)
  • Evidence of drugs use/abuse
  • Sudden affluence
  • Use of hand signs
  • Desire for excessive privacy
  • Having a new nickname
  • Developing a bad attitude toward family, school and other authorities
  • Purchase or desire to buy clothing of all 1 color or style
  • Changing appearance with special haircuts, tattoos
  • Use of gang graffiti on folders, desk, walls and buildings
  • Shows fear or hatred of Police
  • Signs he/she has been in a fight (bruises, scratches) and will not explain
  • The presence of weapons (guns, knives)
Things Parents Can Do
  • Get involved, become active in your children’s education and in your community. Organize or join in neighborhood watch groups. Discourage gangs from hanging around your area. When incidents occur - report them to your police.
  • Know who your children are hanging out with and how they and your children are spending their time. If children choose friends that are mostly from gangs, they are probably, involved or will become involved in gangs.
  • Develop open, frequent communication with your children. Be positive, allow your children to come to you to discuss any topic or problem. Tell your children you love them. Allow them to express themselves.
  • Plan activities the whole family can enjoy. Expose children to different places outside of your neighborhood, such as parks, museums, the beach. Let children know you want to be with them.
  • Don’t let children stay out late or spend a lot of unsupervised time in the streets. Many gang members start with curfew violations.
  • Help children develop respect for each others property and pride in their community. Give them responsibility at home and reward them for a job well done. Teach them to set positive goals for themselves, to set high standards, and to prepare for a positive future. Teach good values.
  • Do not allow your children to watch violent movies of T.V. shows or play violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto or Saint Row series, where players role play as criminals and commit acts of violence. Watching a lot of violence may not cause someone to commit a violent act, but it will desensitize the viewer to violent acts. Some music and video games do this also. Say “no” to violent media.
  • Be a positive role model. Deal with anger in healthy activities such as sports or drama, or any number of other outlets
  • Be a positive role. Deal with anger in a healthy way so children learn from you.
  • Establish a “zero tolerance” for gangs at home and in your community.
  • Avoid denial if your child is showing signs of possible gang involvement.