What Parents Should Know?
Parents can deter children from involvement in gangs:
- Instill good values
- Ask questions and encourage discussion
- Follow up on children’s school work and talk to teachers
- Have children engaged in sports, music, or other structured after school activities and clubs
- Know who they hang out with
- Stay actively involved in your child’s life
- Lead by example
Warning Signs that could indicate involvement with gangs
- Obsession with certain clothing, colors, and brands, new and unusual jewelry
- Utilizes new hand signals and handshakes
- Discusses gangs
- Becomes obsessed with violent movies or video games
- Begins breaking rules
- Has new “friends”
- School grades suddenly drop
- Shows signs of withdrawal, changes in attitude, and secrecy
- Suddenly has unexplained cash or other valuable possessions
- Begins drawing signs and pictures over and over
While no one action can stop a child from being successfully recruited to a gang and no one warning sign means they have become a gang member, the objective is to stay engaged in your child’s life and lead by example.
If you suspect your child is involved in a gang, try to encourage discussion with your child to learn more; and consult your local police gang unit and school administration for advice and direction.