Here are some ways to help your teen stay out of a gang:
- Get him or her involved in activities such as sports or music lessons
- Get involved in his or her school
- Establish rules; set limits, and be consistent, firm and fair
- Get to know his or her friends, as well as the friends' parents
- Show respect for his or her feelings and attitudes
- Develop good communication
- Spend time as a family
- Be a good role model
- Educate yourself about gang and drug activity in your community
- Know where your child is-be aware that is an especially risky time
What are the signs that your child is involved with a gang? You need to pay attention to his or her friends and habits. Has there been a change lately? Here are some things to look for:
- Excessive need for privacy and secrecy
- Use of hand signs with friends
- Injuries from his "friends"
- Peculiar drawings or language on school books
- Unexplained cash or expensive clothing or jewelry
- Gang-member friends
- Obsession with a particular color of clothing
- Withdrawal from family
- New, undesirable friends-and loss of old friends
- Disrespect for you and your expectations
It is extremely difficult for a gang member to get out once he or she has been initiated.
If your child is already in a gang, don't try to handle the situation on your own.
You need to draw on all the resources possible to ensure your child's success. Find out about anti-gang organizations in the community. Contact local law enforcement and the school administrators and counselors.