A parents guide to gangs

Gangs have been of concern to people in cities and towns all over the country. Locally, there has been concern about the formation of gangs in our area. If you have information concerning activity you believe to be gang related please contact your local law enforcement agency.

 

What gang members do isn’t kid stuff, and it’s not a harmless phase that they are going through. Gang members steal and destroy property and commit many violent crimes. As parents, we need to know why our children are joining gangs, and the warnings signs that may indicate gang membership. Here are some tips for spotting possible gang involvement by your child.
SO WHY DO KIDS JOIN GANGS?

  • Because they have low self-esteem
  • Because they have a lack of identity
  • Because they have a need to feel important
  • Because they are seeking companionship or a sense of belonging
  • Because they are looking for security
  • Because they lack other positive alternative activities, like sports
  • Because they lack parental involvement
  • Because they succumb to peer pressure

 

SO WHAT ARE THE SIGNALS THAT MAY INDICATE GANG MEMBERSHIP?

  • A change in the style of clothing worn or wearing one particular color often
  • Withdrawing from the family
  • Declining grades and poor school attendance
  • Unexplained money or new possessions
  • Tattoos that are affiliated with a gang or group
  • Use of nicknames
  • Graffiti on their personal things or on their clothing
  • Contacts with the police

 

REMEMBER, JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE IS ON THE THRESHOLD OF JOINING A GANG, OR IS ALREADY IN A GANG, DOESN’T MEAN THAT IT IS TOO LATE TO ESTABLISH POSITIVE ALTERNATIVES!

 

SO WHAT CAN WE DO?

  • Establish non-negotiable rules for your family regarding the use of alcohol, drugs, and gang membership
  • Establish clear guidelines and limits for your children’s behavior and their activities
  • Spend time with your children; do things with them and attend functions in which they are involved
  • Respect your children’s feelings and attitudes; help them to develop a strong sense of self-esteem
  • If you’re unsure or are in family crises, then seek help from a local agency
  • Get to know your children’s friends and acquaintances
  • Become involved in your child’s school; meet with the counselors and teachers
  • Educate yourself as much as you can about gangs and drugs

For further information on this or others safety topics please contact the University of Florida Police Department’s Community Services Division at 392-1409.