What Is A Gang? A gang is defined as a group of people who form an alliance for a common purpose, share a common identity and are involved in wrongful or delinquent activities. The average age of gang members is from 14-21 years of age; however, recent trends indicate that children are being recruited into gangs at a much younger age, some when they are in elementary school. Gangs can include people of every gender, race, culture and socioeconomic group. Most gangs TARGET YOUTH that are EASILY TALKED INTO DOING WORK for the gang.
So why do kids join gangs? Many kids join a gang because of peer pressure. If your kids are hanging around gangs and gang members, you can almost guarantee that they are being pressured to join the gang. Some kids are looking for acceptance. Many kids feel that they are not getting the attention they feel they deserve at home. They start looking for this attention and love in other places and often find what they are looking for in a gang. More and more, we are seeing kids join a gang to earn money through illegal services. Selling narcotics, robberies, burglaries, auto thefts, and other property crimes are common in many gangs. Some kids join a gang for the excitement and to socialize. Easy access to liquor, narcotics, and girls are attractive to potential gang recruits.
Signs of Gang Involvement. There are many signs that parents and guardians can use to tell if a child is involved in a gang. These include:
1. Having unexplained money, items, or clothing
2. Wearing clothing of all one type, style, or color
3. Using of hand signs, special slang or words with hidden messages
4. Associating with known gang members
5. Withdrawing from family, worsening attitude with parents
6. Carrying weapons
7. Having gang graffiti on walls or personal items
If you have concerns that your child or friend is involved in a gang, it is important to discuss it with them. This will not be easy due to the fear of gang retaliation. It is important to intervene to protect the child from drugs, violence and criminal activity. If you suspect the child is involved in gang activity, access agencies in your community for help.