What Gangs Do
Many gang activities are frequently shared by a large portion of society, except for one important difference: gang members seek confrontations with rivals. When gang members attend school, a family picnic, neighborhood gathering or party, the potential for violence and criminal activity is far greater than for any other group of people. The violent acts, usually indiscriminate, often involve innocent victims. Gang violence often makes headlines.
Why people join Gangs
Children or teenagers join gangs for a variety of reasons: the excitement of gang activity, peer pressure, physical protection, attention, financial gain, and family tradition. In many cases, youths are not actively discouraged from gang involvement by their parents. Often parents are unaware that their children are engaged in gang activity.
Most gang members dress in the same manner. The uniform of some local gangs is easy to recognize. It includes white T-shirts, thin belts, baggy or sagging trousers, and a black or blue knit cap (beanie or a bandana tied around the forehead similar to a sweatband). Some gangs have changed their clothing style and no longer wear their colors in order to deceive law enforcement.
Identifying Gang Members
Most gang members are proud of their gang and freely admit their membership. Many have tattoos and dress in a style identifying their particular gang. Their personal property is frequently covered with graffiti, the gang's logo, and the member's gang name (moniker). Gang members "throw signs" with their fingers. This means they make gestures with their hands and fingers which identify their gang.
What Can I Do To Help?
- You and your neighbors can work with the police to help get gangs and drugs out of our community. Here are some suggestions on how to get involved.
- REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY - Gang members assume that citizens will be too afraid to call the police. You know your neighborhood better than anyone else. When something is not right, call and report it!
- GRAFFITI CLEAN-UP - The best defense against graffiti is immediate removal. The longer it stays up, the more recognition the vandals get from their peers.
- TAKE ACTION! Prevention is the key to controlling gang activity. Everyone must work toward solutions to the gang problem.
- Establish Neighborhood Watch. Contact your local law enforcement agency for up-to-date information. Its crime prevention or gang specialists can help your neighborhood plan ways to fight gang activity. They can help you organize a Neighborhood Watch program in your community. The gangs' power grows through their use of fear and violence to intimidate rivals and citizens alike. This tactic can be countered by citizen action groups such as Neighborhood Watch. A neighborhood which is united in the goal to stop gang crime and violence can be an effective force in curbing gangs.
- Cooperate with Police. When gang incidents occur in your neighborhood, cooperate with the police. Your help may prevent others from becoming victims of gang violence. Any information about gang crimes, wanted suspects or any violent gang-activity should be reported to the police. Remember - Fighting crime and dealing directly with violent gang members are best left to experts trained to handle dangerous situations.
- Spend quality time with your children.
- Know who your children's friends are (first & last names).
- Insist on curfews and knowing where your kids are and who they are with.
- Become involved with your children's school activities.
- Establish rules, set limits and be consistent.
- Encourage good study habits.
- Become a model of self-esteem that your children will want to emulate.
- Respect your children's feelings and attitudes, and help them develop a strong sense of self-esteem.
- Watch for negative influences that might lead to drug abuse, gang membership or delinquent behavior.