A gang is a group or association of three or more persons who may have a common identifying sign, symbol or name, and who individually or collectively engage in criminal activity such as drug sales, car theft, robbery and burglary.
What parents can do
Here are just a few things you can do to keep your child from being lured into a gang:
- Establish non-negotiable family rules regarding the use of alcohol, drugs and gang membership.
- Establish clear guidelines and limits for your children’s behavior and their activities.
- Spend time with your children; do things with them and attend functions in which they are involved.
- Respect your children’s feelings and attitudes; help them develop a strong sense of self-esteem.
- Demand accountability for money and clothes.
- Be observant of dress patterns and jewelry.
- Know your children’s friends.
- Meet regularly with school counselors and teachers.
- Educate yourself about gangs and drugs. Go to the G.R.E.A.T. Program or National Gang Center websites.
- If assistance is needed, seek professional help from a local agency such as law enforcement, social services or school counselors.
Look for the signs
Youth who are involved in gangs show a significant change in attitude toward authority. They sometimes have sudden negative contact with police.
Socially, they will withdraw from the family and have a sudden change in friends. Their grades in school will decline, and there will be signs of tobacco, alcohol and drug use.
The child will change how they dress. They will wear one particular color or brand. Signs and symbols will appear on personal articles.
To learn more about gangs, see the Dakota County Attorney’s Confronting Gangs brochure.