What is a gang?
An organized group of adolescents and/or young adults who rely on group intimidation and violence, and commit criminal acts in order to gain power and recognition and/or control certain areas of unlawful activity.
Who joins a gang?
Gangs spread across all races and ethnic orgins. They are not restricted to any one socio-economic group. They often include people who are looking for a surrogate family. Some may join a gang because they have relatives or friends in the gang. Gang members are often dealing with their own drug and/or alcohol issues or addictions.
Top 8 Reasons Youth join gangs...
- Surrogate family
- Identity or recognition
- Family history
- Lack of alternatives
Factors that influence youth joining a gang
- Low self esteem with a sense of helplessness
- Peer pressure from family gang members
- Parental neglect
- Poverty/substandard housing – Living in high-risk neighborhoods
- Substance abuse in and outside the home
- School dropout or truant
- Friends/family members with criminal backgrounds
- Antisocial, hostile or aggressive behaviors towards people in authority
- Social deprivation or isolation behaviors
- Feel the need for personal protection
- Perceived lack of employment opportunities
- Lack of positive role models
- Unaware of the consequences of gang involvement
- Lack of unemployment opportunities
- Domestic violent/physical and sexual abuse
Recognize The Signs
Possible Signs of Gangs in Your Community
- Increase in graffiti in the neighborhoods
- Increase in crime, especially violent crime
- Increase in groups of unknown subjects loitering in the neighborhoods, especially those who fit the description of a gang member
- Increase in suspected narcotics activity
- Gang colours & signs in community and schools
- Increase in community FEAR! – witnesses and victims are reluctant to talk to the police.
Common Gang Symbols
- These are "colours" and signify specific membership.
- These can change…look for a consistent article in a gang.
- Altered Ball Hats with logos or writing
- Corresponds to their gang colors
- Specific styles of dress or clothing
- Hand signs
- Are often in block letters.
- Often contain gang name.
- Often in gang colour.
- May contain list of nicknames.
- May be found in areas where gang activity is common.
- May be crossed out by rival gangs.
Signs Someone you know is getting involved in a gang life
- Staying out late
- Unexplained injuries
- Withdrawal from family of friends
- Secretive about new friends/ sudden change in friends
- Abrupt change in personality
- Unexplained new possessions or unaccounted monies
- Preference for certain colour of clothing (gang colours)
- Graffiti on personal items such as notebooks or bedroom walls
- Tattoos or makings of gang symbols on hands or body
- Frequent run-ins with the law
On the Home Front: Countering The Lure of Gangs
- Know your child's friends
- Occupy your child's free time with school, sports or church activities
- Plan family outings and activities
- Give your child responsibilities or chores at home
- Don't allow your child to wear gang colours or paraphernalia
- Don't allow him/her to be out late at night
- Know where your child is going, when he/she is going out late at night. Know who your child is with
- Participate in your child's education. Know what's happening at school
- Develop anti-gang attitudes in your home. Let your child know that you will not tolerate gang involvement
- Spend time with your child. If you spend time with him/her, he or she will not have to go to a gang to fill that need
- Be a role model
Gang Myth #1: Does the media portray gangs as glamorous?
Yes! But this differs from the REALITY of what happens on the street. Media plays on the positive aspects but fails to tell you the real truth!
Gang Myth #2: A gang will protect you
It depends on the status within the gang and usefulness. Just being a Member in a certain street gang will greatly increases your risk of physical danger!
Gang Myth #3: A gang is like a family
Gangs function directly opposite of the true families. Where families sacrifice for the benefit of the individual member, the gang requires the individual to sacrifice for the whole. Gang also judge you regarding clothing and rules which are enforced violently!
Gang Myth #4: Gangs are respected by the community
Complete opposite! Most communities looks down on the gang on a whole and their criminal activities, violence and intimidation tactics! Gang members always mistake fear as respect. They continually worry about who is or is not showing the proper amount of respect and fear. There is a significant difference.
Do your part. Report Gang Activity
If you wish to remain anonymous feel free to call Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8447 (TIPS) or you can leave a tip on-line at External link, opens in a new windowMetro Vancouver Crime Stoppers.