Gang Prevention

Many teens join gangs because they are bored, lacking in purpose, or looking for a way to belong. But there are other options. Sports, clubs, recreational, and after-school programs give you a great chance to meet new people, explore new interests, develop new talents and skills, and to connect with people that really care about you and your well-being. The response from school officials to the presence of gangs requires a combination of prevention, intervention, and enforcement strategies. Local law enforcement also needs to be involved since gang activity is usually present on and off school property. Gang activity often escalates in warmer weather and when schools are out for the summer, so this is a good month for SAVE chapters to focus on the awareness of this issue.

Crime Prevention Activities

  • Educate students about the warning signs of gang activity such as graffiti, “colors”, symbols and unusual hand signs.
  • Publish an article in a school or local newspaper about the local gang culture including what to look for and tips for teens and parents.
  • Invite a local member of law enforcement to speak to your chapter and parents on gangs.
  • Encourage students to stay away from gangs and gang members. Remind them that if they look like a gang member and are seen with a gang member, they may be mistaken for a real gang member and have the chance of being an innocent target of violent gang behavior.

Conflict Management Activities

  • Sponsor a role-playing activity showing the negative consequences of gang activity.
  • Conduct an esteem-building workshop that celebrates each person as an individual.
  • Educate students on areas to avoid in the school and community that are known for gang activity.
  • Work with law enforcement and counselors to establish tips on how to respond when approached by gang members.

Service Project Activities

  • Find a local business to sponsor an after-school alternative to “hanging out” as a way to develop positive activities for teens.
  • Work with local agencies to create “safe places” where youth can go for assistance when they are approached by gangs for membership or dangerous activities and institute a Neighborhood Watch or community patrol.

Additional Information/Resources

  • How to Get Out of a Gang – Special thanks to North Chicago High School SAVE Chapter for providing this brochure!
  • OJJDP Report Examines Best Practices To Address Gang Problems – The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has published “Best Practices To Address Community Gang Problems: OJJDP’s Comprehensive Gang Model.” The report provides communities responding to a present or potential youth gang problem with guidance in implementing OJJDP’s Comprehensive Gang Model. It describes the research informing the model, notes findings from evaluations of several programs demonstrating the model, and outlines best practices derived from practitioners with experience in planning and implementing the model in their communities.
  • Gangs by Brian Gonya, Ripon College
  • How Can We Prevent Girls From Joining Gangs – The NIJ and the CDC join forces: Dr. Meda Chesney-Lind explores why girls join gangs and how strategies aimed at preventing gang-joining can address issues that are unique to girls.
  • Changing Course: Preventing Youth From Joining Gangs – The NIJ and the CDC join forces: How to Identify and Intervene With Kids at Risk of Joining Gangs. The consequences of gangs — and the burden they place on the law enforcement and public health systems in our communities — are significant. People who work in the fields of public health and public safety know that efforts to address the problem after kids have already joined gangs are not enough. To realize a significant and lasting reduction in youth gang activity, we must prevent young people from joining gangs in the first place.