Gangs & School Violence

    Yo, you want to score big? A good offense...

The first defense in protecting our kids against gang influence, is a good offense. Just as we warn our kids against the dangers of smoking, alcohol and drugs before we discover evidence of such activity, we must take similar precautions and talk to our children about the dangers of gang involvement. That is, making our children aware that gang association of any kind is harmful and will not be tolerated. They need to hear it from you and know where you stand.

Discuss the consequences of being in a gang. We must teach them that they should not associate with gang members, communicate with gangs, hang out where gangs congregate, wear gang-related clothing or attend events sponsored by gangs. We must try to make them understand that the dangers here are real and "just saying no" may save their lives.

What to look out for

Parents should be alarmed and take appropriate action if a child exhibits one or more of these warning signs. Although we should exercise caution, we need to determine the degree (if any) of a child's involvement. We can assume that a child has some level of involvement with a gang if he/she:

  • admits that they are involved in any manner with a gang

  • is obsessed with a particular clothing color

  • prefers sagging pants or gang clothing

  • wears jewelry with distinguishing designs or wears it only on one side of the body

  • requests a particular logo over others such as British Knights (BK) - known as "Blood Killer" in some areas

  • adopts an unusual desire for privacy and secrecy

  • exhibits a change in behavior and conduct and withdraws from the family

  • is frequently deceitful about their activities

  • declining grades at school

  • truancy and/or being late for school

  • begins keeping late hours

  • breaks parental rules repeatedly

  • is obsessed with gangster music or videos

  • associates with the "wrong crowd" (changes friends)

  • begins using hand signs with friends

  • has paint or permanent marker stains on his/her hands or clothes. Or, is in possession of graffiti paraphernalia such as markers, etching tools, spray paint, bug spray and starch cans.

  • show evidence of physical injures and lies about how they were received

  • displays unusual drawings or text on school books or displays graffiti in their bedrooms and on items such as books and posters

  • produces unexplained cash, clothing, jewelry, music CDs, etc.

  • exhibits use of alcohol or drugs

Be careful

Gangs - online resources for parents and educatorsNone of these warning signs alone is sufficient for predicting gang involvement, aggression or tendencies toward violence. Also, it can be detrimental to use these signs as a checklist against which to measure children. Early warning signs are just that, indicators that a child may need our help and guidance. These are behavioral and emotional signs that, when considered in context, can signal a distraught child. Early warning signs provide us with a means to examine our concerns and address the child's needs. Early warning signs allow us to get help for the child before problems escalate.