Gangs & Children

A Street Gang is a cohesive or organized group, sometimes with an identifiable leader and structure.  Street gangs have a recognizable geographical territory and represent themselves with colors, symbols and hand signs.  They behave anti-socially and criminally.
Most members of a Street Gang are between the ages of 11 and 23 and predominantly male.  It is extremely important to identify gang members and “At Risk” subjects at an early age.  Once they become “Hardcore” members, the Gang becomes the most important part of their life.

Why Do They Join?
  • Sense of adventure
  • Identity – A sense of belonging and a need to be accepted
  • Peer pressure
  • Younger teens trying to emulate older teens
  • Low self-esteem
  • Is a second generation gang member (parents were gang members and raised the child to be a gang member)
  • Too much unsupervised free time
  • Lack of parental interest and support
  • No sense of future
  • Lack of parental supervision, rules and limitations
Some Signs of Gang Involvement
The following are some signs you can look for to identify if your child is involved with a gang:
  • Changes in clothing and jewelry preferences
  • Use of hand signs
  • Unusual drawings, signs and symbols on child’s notebooks, papers, etc.
  • Changes in friends:  dropping old friends and activities
  • Decreased participation in family activities
  • Lack of interest in school and sudden drop in grades
  • Inability to account for time spent away from home and unwillingness to bring friends to the house
  • Secretive behaviors at home, such as secret phone calls.  Also, changes in attitude and behavior toward family
  • Use of nicknames or changes in vocabulary
  • Possession or unusual interest in weapons, such as knives, guns, clubs, martial arts weapons, etc.
  • Emotional changes such as increased feelings of frustration or anger
Be observant, but not quick to judge.  Evidence of gang involvement is made by specific and multiple identifiers.
If you suspect your child has become involved, don’t be in denial.  Seek assistance immediately.  The problem of denial of gang activity can be a serious problem in itself.