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National Foundation for Abused and Neglected Children, Logo


Reducing Youth
Gang Involvement

Tips for Children and Parents

10 Tips for Children

1) Settle arguments with words, not fists or weapons. Don't stand around and form an audience when others are arguing. A group makes a good target for violence.
2) Learn safe routes for walking in the neighborhood, and know good places to seek help. Trust feelings, and if there's a sense of danger, get away fast.
3) Report any crimes or suspicious actions to the police, school authorities, and parents. Be willing to testify if needed.
4) Don't hang out with gang members and stay away from known gang hangouts.
5) Never go anywhere with someone you don't know and trust.
6) If someone tries to pressure you into joining a gang say, "no," get away, and tell a trusted adult. Remember, it's not the victim's fault.
7) Don't use alcohol or other drugs, and stay away from places and people associated with them.
8) Stick with friends who are also against gangs, violence, and drugs, and stay away from known trouble spots.
9) Get involved to make school safer and better – having poster contests against violence, holding anti-gang and anti-drug rallies, counseling peers, and settling disputes peacefully all help. If there's no program, start one!
10) Help younger children learn to avoid being crime victims. Set a good example, and volunteer to help with community efforts to stop crime.

What Can Parents Do?

1) Show an active and sincere interest in your children – their friends, activities, and whereabouts at night and after school. By knowing how your children feel about their daily life, you will be able to communicate with them more openly.
2) Meet and know your teenagers' friends and their parents. You will feel more secure if you know the people your children are spending time with.
3) Talk with, not to, your children. Listen to them and take the time to understand their concerns. Let them know they are important.
4) Encourage positive behaviors. Let them know that you notice when they do well. When the need arises for discipline, do so fairly, with dignity, and in private.
5) Confront your children about problems that you see. Do not ignore signs that there might be a problem, gang related or not. Sometimes the "little things" can grow into big things.
6) Be involved with your children in school, community, or church activities. Operation Snowball/Snowflake events, Red Ribbon Week, Drug-Free Schools, and DARE often need and want parent volunteers.
7) Establish "home rules" for your children and always follow them. Enforce curfews. Setting clear boundaries and expectations is the kind of structure many youth are yearning for. Don't allow the gang culture to meet this need.
8) Encourage your children to participate in healthy recreational activities and sports. A variety of interests will help prevent boredom.
9) Teach your children and teenagers through your own examples. It may not always seem like it, but they look up to you and want to follow what you do.
10) Reassure them that you always love them. Show your love with hugs and encouragement.
11) Help keep awareness high - share what you know about gangs with others so that gang activity is recognized in our communities.
12) Report gang activity in your area. If you see gang activity or graffiti in your area, contact the police. Be willing to clean off graffiti if asked.

Risk Factors

The following may help in identifying an at-risk youth:

• Unexplained Wealth – Sudden Money or Possessions
• Graffiti or Initials on Personal Belongings, Such as Notebooks and Jackets
• Radical Change in Friends
• Decline in Grades
• The Wearing of the Same Colors or Clothing Items – Check If Their Friends Also Wear These Colors and Items
• Change in Vocabulary, Including Frequent Use of Nicknames
• Hand Signals and/or Symbolism

Be an Involved Parent

Active parenting and intervention is critical if a combination of the above traits is observed. Consult with your child's school counselor, a juvenile officer, or a counseling professional in your community. Recognizing the warning signs may help a youth resist trouble, arrest, or injury.