What is a gang?
The Texas Penal Code, Chapter 71.10 defines a criminal street gang as: Three or more persons having a common identifying sign or symbol or an identifiable leadership who continuously or regularly associate in the commission of criminal activities.
Can a gang or gang member be identified from clothing alone?
Absolutely not. Determining affiliation with a gang is based upon many factors and cannot be based upon clothing alone. Like putting together a puzzle, the many factors involved in identifying such persons must fit together and support the facts.
What indicators or signs should I look for in my child that he/she is involved with gangs?
As stated in question 2, you cannot make determinations to support your suspicions based solely upon one factor. Some of the indicators/signs that you can look for to see if your child is involved with a gang are:
- New friends with whom you are unfamiliar and who display some of the gang indicators/signs. Pulling away from or alienating themselves from long time old friends.
- A new style of dress which is uncharacteristic of the child.
- The consistent wearing of certain colors which their friends appear to wear as well.
- The child is very secretive about his/her activities and their friends.
- Possession or use of drugs and/or alcohol.
- Gang related graffiti in their rooms, on your home, on their school papers/books, or on their persons.
- Unusual and irrational fear of the Police.
- Discipline or grade problems at school.
- Talks about his/her “crew” when referring to friends.
- Staying out late or “hanging out” in new areas.
- Possession of weapons (Firearms, altered clubs, knives).
- Unexplainable possession of spray paint cans or permanent markers.
- Bragging about the “crew” or the “homies”, and not being afraid to die.
- Watching films/videos or listening to music that obviously glorifies the gangster lifestyle.
- Loss of interest in sports or family activities.
- Unexplainable injuries which may be caused from gang fights or being “jumped-in” to a gang.
- Threats from other gangs/gang members against your child made by phone, in person, or in writing.
- New Tattoos.
How can I discourage my child from joining a gang?
Remember, you are the parent, you have the right to set rules and guidelines for you child.
- Talk to your child, often times they will openly tell you what is going on in their lives.
- Make sure your child understands that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.
- Spend time with your child.
- Learn about the types of gangs, gang activity, and gang indicators present in your community.
- Participate directly in your community as well as with your child's education.
- Know what music your child is listening to and what television shows they are watching.
- Positively reinforce your child’s feeling of self-worth.