From Newark Police
Parents often lack factual information about gangs. Many gang members have become knowledgeable about the law and, as a result, have minimized their visibility.
In the past, there was a high level of pride associated with the display of gang symbols (i.e., style of clothing, tattoos, hand signs), but today it is no longer easy to identify a gang member.
As a result, a growing number of youth are being recruited into gangs without the awareness of parents, teachers, law enforcement officers or community members.
While no single sign is proof that a teen is in a gang, the risk factors increases with each additional indicator your child exhibits as listed below:
- Decline in grades
- Change of friends
- Keeping late hours
- Alcohol and other drug use
- Having large sums of money or expensive items that cannot be explained
- Developing attitude problems with parents, teachers, or others in authority
- Intensifying anger
- Sudden hatred for another group
- Glamorizing gangs
- Wearing gang clothing or an importance placed on certain colors
- Withdrawing from the family
- Secretive or abrupt changes in behavior
- Abrupt changes in music tastes, clothing styles
- Presence of body modifications, including tattoos, scarring, burns and brands.
- Presence of gang graffiti in bedroom or on books, clothing, shoes, or posters
- Using hand signs to communicate with other gang members, siblings, teachers, and parents
- Displaying photos showing gang names, slogans, insignia, hand signals, or people involved in gang activities
- Using gang-style language
- Participating in gang activities
- Associating with known gang members
What You Can Do About Gang Involvement
Parents are an important factor in preventing high-risk behavior like gang involvement in youth. Below are some tips to help parents keep their children away from gang activity.
- Talk to your teen about high-risk behavior with gangs and drugs
- Monitor your teen and set clear rules
- Identify risk factors for delinquent behavior, violence and gang involvement
- Recognize warning signs indicating your teen may already be involved
- If your teen is involved with a gang - ACT QUICKLY
- Get involved in your child’s life
- Get involved in your community
- Let your child know you love and care about him or her
There are some simple steps parents can take to keep track of their child’s activities. Of course, their child might not like them keeping tabs on where he or she is and what he or she is doing. It won’t be a democracy and it shouldn’t be, according to many parenting experts. In the end, it’s not pestering, it’s parenting.
- Set rules
- Praise and reward
- Know where your teen is and what he or she will be doing
- Talk to your teen
- Keep them busy - especially between 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., when the majority of juvenile delinquency is committed
- Check on your teenager
- Establish a “core values statement” for your family. Establish a clear family position on drugs and repeat it often
- Be a good example
- Spend time together
- Take time to learn the facts about drugs and alcohol
- Get to know your teen’s friends (and their parents)
- Stay in touch with your child’s adult supervisors
Bottom line: “Get involved with your child’s life. Show them you care and DO NOT tolerate criminal behavior!”