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Juvie and Gang Crimes: 8 Signs Your Child May Be in a Gang

Posted in Gangs FAQ'S on January 25, 2016

Gang involvement is a serious problem in southern California, and many dangerous gangs operate in and around the Riverside area. These groups indoctrinate children into their organizations, and once you’re in a gang, it’s difficult to escape. For parents, gang involvement is often a nightmare.

Gang members face an increased risk of assault, injury, drug addiction, and death. Your child could end up taking a life or being killed at a young and impressionable age. Even if you know your child is good at heart, read through this list. Good kids can get wrapped up in some bad things without realizing the ramifications of their actions.

Your child might be in a gang if:

He or she admits to a gang affiliation. Kids that boast about gang involvement or hanging out with gang members are asking for attention. Take them seriously. At best they’re exaggerating, but they could be telling you the truth.

You notice your child wearing unusual or gang-affiliated dress. If your kids strongly favor one or two colors or wear certain items of clothing or a hairstyle, they may just be exercising a freedom of expression, or they could be expressing a gang affiliation.

He or she comes home with unexplained injuries. Unexplained injuries could be a sign of bullying at school or a typical fight. However, if you contact your child’s school and do not receive a satisfactory answer, he or she could be getting into trouble elsewhere.

A teacher comes to you with concerns. If your kid’s school contacts you about a drop in performance or attendance or mentions behavioral differences, the change could indicate gang involvement.

You find weapons, cash, expensive items, or drugs in your child’s belongings. Even if these signals don’t indicate gang involvement, they may be signs your child is experiencing trouble of some kind.

He or she is getting into trouble more than usual. A child that starts getting into trouble with the police, at school, or at home may be acting out, or it may be a sign of gang involvement.

Your child has a new suspicious nickname. Gang’s often use pseudonyms to identify their members.

Other signs. Similar suspicious activities may include odd language choices, personality changes (stereotypical gang behaviors), gang signs on notebooks/folders, stealing, or alcohol/drug use.

Exhibition of gang warning signs doesn’t always mean a child is in a gang. However, these signs do indicate that a child is going through a difficult time. Partner with community leaders and educators to create a series of positive activities that may steer your child away from negative activities and associations.

If you notice any of these signs in conjunction, you may want to confront your child about his or her changed behaviors. Try to avoid putting your child on the spot, but ask open ended questions to learn more about what your child is going through. The longer a child remains under gang influence, the harder it will be to reach him or her. Many gangs create a culture of fear. Even though your child may be acting out in bold ways, he or she likely feels frightened or insecure.

The National Gang Center has developed a resource guide for parents who suspect a child is involved with a gang. Some parents may want to give their children the “tough love” approach and let them spend time in juvenile detention or jail. This approach may actually encourage a child to become more deeply entrenched in a gang. Instead, consider rehabilitation through counseling and positive recreational activities.

For more information about criminal gang involvement, contact the Law Offices of Graham D. Donath, APC today.