IS YOUR CHILD IN A GANG ??
This information was developed as an
awareness guide to help suppress gang violence in our communities and our
schools. Cooperative efforts of law enforcement, education and the
community will clearly define the problems so they can be dealt with
WHAT IS A GANG?
Gangs are usually formed according
to ethnic or racial guidelines, although there seems to be a current trend to
form gangs for economic reasons. Traditional youth gangs structured along ethnic
lines include Hispanic, Asian (e.g. Vietnamese, Laotian), Black, Pacific
Islander (e.g. Tongan, Filipino), and White (e.g. Skinheads) gangs. A gang is a
group of people who form an allegiance for a common purpose and engage in
violent, unlawful, or criminal activity. A gang may or may not claim control
over a certain territory in the community.
FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO GANG
Parents should look for change in behavior and
lifestyle of their child. Contributing factors placing a youth at risk include
ineffective parental skills, history of family gang involvement and evidence of
parental abuse or neglect. This type of dysfunctional family atmosphere affects
the youth's school behavior, leading to poor academic achievement and early
anti-social behavior. The at-risk youth now becomes a personal risk. The youth
will display low self-esteem and may begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
As the youth searches for his or her new identity, he usually isolates himself
with others experiencing similar social and personal problems. Youth ex-posed to
these influences without guidance has a tendency to accept and legitimize his
activities. The youth will flourish and strive in his or her newly found status.
This self rewarding status guarantees the youth's indulgence with the gang
SIGNS OF GANG INVOLVEMENT
Certain signs indicate gang
involvement in our community or on school campuses. Parents should be aware of
these warning signs and should be ready to employ the appropriate prevention and
intervention strategies. These warning signs include:
1) An "informal" dress code that is followed by your
child, and his or her associates (hats, scarves, jewelry, shoelaces, colors,
tattoos and insignias, etc.).
2) Street slang, use of new nicknames and hand signs.
3) Newly acquired and unexplained "wealth" often displayed, worn or shared with peers.
4) Graffiti on personal property, book covers, notebooks and clothing. This graffiti may include initials, numbers, names, expressed racism or hatred of religious groups or sexual preferences.
5) Pictures on cell phones signifying gangs or gang culture.
6) Internet accounts with gang graffiti, gang culture, signs, and symbols. ( Myspace accounts, E-mails, Instant Messenger)
HOW GANGS FUNCTION
Gangs thrive on intimidation and notoriety. They often find violence glamorous and a necessity in order to maintain individual and gang status. Like most groups, street gangs depend upon both individual and group participation. Unlike legitimate groups or organizations, street gangs generally do not have an identified leader. The person who is the toughest, has the guns, or has the most money may emerge as the leader, but this status is generally short-lived.
EFFECTS OF GANG INVOLVEMENT
Gang membership extracts a terrible toll from the lives of all who are in contact with the member. Families of gang members must be concerned for their own safety as well as that of their son or daughter who is a gang member. Friends who are not involved with gangs are cast aside and soon the youth's only friends are gang members.
Gang membership, although a temporary phase for some youths, will shape the individual's future. Formal education is discarded because it is counter to the gang's objectives. Gang members who are not killed or seriously injured often develop patterns of alcohol and narcotics abuse, and extensive police records that limit future employment opportunities.
- WHAT GANGS DO
Many gang activities are consistent
with those engaged in by a large portion of society. But, when a gang member is
involved in a weekend party, fund-raising car wash, or even a family or
neighborhood picnic, the potential for violence and criminal activity is far
greater than for any other group of people. Gang members seek confrontations
with rivals. The resulting violence often claims innocent victims. Gang violence
varies from individual assaults to drive by shootings. Some gangs are involved
in the sale of drugs, extortion, robberies, motor vehicle thefts, or other
criminal activity for monetary gain. While gang violence and criminal activity
often make headlines, vandalism in the form of graffiti and the wanton
destruction of public and private property is often done in the furtherance of
the -gang's reputation. Abandoned houses are a favorite target for vandalism but
even occupied houses do not escape. Local businesses suffer not only from
property damage and graffiti, but also from loss of customers and employees.
Of greater concern is the inherent
violence associated with gang graffiti. Gang members use graffiti to mark their
gang's "turf" or "territory." They also use it to advertise the gang's status or
power and to declare their own allegiance to the gang. When a neighborhood is
marked with graffiti indicating territorial dominance, the entire area and its
inhabitants become targets for violence. Anyone on the street or in his home is
fair game for drive-by attacks by rival gang members. A rival gang identifies
everyone in the neighborhood as a potential threat. Consequently, innocent
residents are often subjected to gang violence by the mere presence of graffiti
in their neighborhood.
Gangs attempt to instill fear,
intimidating rivals and citizens alike. The gang's power grows through use of
fear and intimidation. This can be countered by citizen action groups such as
Neighborhood Watch. A neighborhood that is united and dedicated in a spirit of
cooperation toward stopping crime and violence will greatly hamper the gang's
effort to flourish.
When incidents occur, cooperate with authorities. Your help and cooperation may prevent others from becoming victims of gang violence. Information concerning gang crimes, wanted suspects, or any violent gang activity should be reported to the police.
HOW TO DISCOURAGE YOUR CHILDREN FROM JOINING GANGS
Discourage your children from hanging around with gang members.
Meet your children's friends. Find out who they are, what influence they have on your children and how they and your children spend their free time. If your children choose friends that are mostly from gangs, then your children are probably involved or will become involved in one also.
Occupy your children's free time.
Give them responsibilities at home. Get them involved in after-school sports, city/county recreation, dance, the arts, and other busy activities.
Develop good communication with your children.
Good communication is open and frequent, and it takes on a positive tone. It allows your children to come to you to discuss any topic or problem. It does not condemn or put down. Good communication allows you to tell your children that you love them.
Spend time with your children.
Plan activities that the whole family can enjoy. Spend time alone with your children. Expose them to different places outside of your neighborhood: parks, museums, the beach, the mountains, camping trips, etc.
Do not buy or allow your children to dress in gang style clothing.
If your children dress in gang style
clothing, they are expressing an interest in gangs and will attract the
attention of gangs. If they are in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time,
they could be victimized or killed.
Set limits for your children.
At an early age, children need to know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behavior. Do not allow your children to stay out late or spend a lot of unsupervised time out in the streets.
Do not allow your children to write or practice gang writing.
Names, symbols, or any other gang graffiti on their books, papers, clothes, bodies, walls or any other place.
Teach them respect for others' property.
Develop an anti-gang environment in your home. Clearly and continually begin to express to your children at an early age your disapproval of gang activity and of any family members joining a gang.
Learn about gang and drug activity in your community.
Learn how gang members dress, how they speak, their behavior and their activities. Attend information meetings, read articles related to gang activity.
Be an informed parent!!!