This information is to help parents determine if their child is either at risk in becoming associated with or is involved in gang activity. Indicators of gang association outlined in this brochure may generally fit a variety of youths. If parents observe more than one indicator, they should talk to their child about their concerns.
WHAT IS A GANG?
A gang is a group of three or more people who associate together, have a common identity and engage in criminal or delinquent activity. The gang may use a name, color, clothing style, tattoos, or other items to identify themselves. A gang may or may not claim control over a certain territory in the community.
WHY PEOPLE JOIN GANGS
There are many reasons people join gangs. Attention, excitement, peer pressure, protection, and financial gain are a few. In some families, gang membership is a tradition. Other people become gang members because they think gangs are trendy. Many youths do not realize the risks and hazards of gang involvement.
Parents may not be aware of their child's involvement. Parents should discuss gangs with their child and actively discourage gang association.
SIGNS OF GANG ASSOCIATION
Parents should be aware of behavior changes in their children. Such changes include; a decline in grades, truancy, graffiti in the youth's room, on school folders or on clothes, wearing of certain style or color of clothes, breaking of curfew, change in friends, drug and/or alcohol use, or possession of money or items that a parent cannot explain. Involvement of your child with a group of their friends in delinquent or criminal behavior may be another sign. Some gang members devise hand signals to communicate with other gang members. Use of such signals should alert parents to possible gang association.
Style shows the group that youths associate with. The particular color, type of clothing, shoes, hats, or the way the clothing is worn can be a warning sign. Look for the symbols, messages, graffiti or gang names written or embroidered on jacket, pants, shoes or baseball caps.
Various colors may be signs of gang association. Red may be used to show association with the Bloods or Northern California Hispanic Prison gangs. Blue may be used to show association with the Crips or Southern California Hispanic Prison gangs. Black clothing may be worn by a variety of gang associated youths. Some Hispanic gangs, White Supremacist gangs and some "Heavy Metal" gangs wear this color.
Graffiti appears on books, posters, bedroom walls, interior of vehicles, doors and furniture. You should discuss any graffiti you find with your child first, then remove it. The graffiti may be a gang member's name or the name of their gang. It may include members' nicknames, or be a declaration of loyalty to a particular gang. Hispanic gang graffiti often uses block lettering that is exaggerated or has reversed letters.
Accessories may be worn to signify gang association. It may be expensive or inexpensive. Belt buckles, bracelets, necklaces, key chains, earrings, and rings are all commonly used. Some gang members wear dice earrings to show the "set" they are associated with. Others may wear a certain color earring to show their gang association.
Pictures of your child with other gang members is a clear indicator. These photos may show members displaying hand signs, weapons, colors, clothing styles, or flashing money. Photographs may show your child singularly displaying these indicators.
Parents and the community should be aware that youths involved with gangs commonly carry weapons. The weapons may be baseball bats, tire irons, spiked wrist bands, a pipe, "martial arts" weapons, knives, "look alike" pellet guns, and guns. These types of weapons have been seized from youths involved in gangs in this county.