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Communities vs Gangs

  • Street gang prevention/intervention cannot be assigned as the sole responsibility of any one service agency.

  • Gangs are not just a police problem, a school problem, or a family problem.

  • Cooperation between parents, police, the community, and government officials are proving to be the most effective.

  • Collaborative prevention/intervention efforts are likely to be more effective if they are initiated when the signs of gang activity first appear.

  • Remember that prevention is the key to controlling gang activity

  • Everyone and every community can work on solutions to gang activity

  • Effective anti-gang efforts begin with partnerships among parents, schools, law enforcement, religious institutions, community organizations, businesses, and youth.

How You Can Prevent Gang Violence

Children and teens who have good skills to deal with other people are less likely to join gangs or to be involved in negative behaviour. To build self-confidence and respect for others in their children, parents need to teach:

  • Honest communication. Children need to learn to express feelings such as anger, joy, love and fear. They must believe it is okay for them to express these feelings without being teased or punished.

  • Cooperation. Children must learn to cooperate, negotiate, and put themselves in another person’s shoes. Praise your children for cooperating, especially when they are able to work out a compromise.

  • Personal responsibility. Teach your children to be responsible for their actions. Let them know that even if they do not get something right at first, what counts is that they are trying hard and learning from the experience.

  • Ability to make decisions. Instead of solving problems for your children, give them the chance to think of possible solutions.

  • Ability to give and receive unconditional love. Love your children for who they are, regardless of how well they do in school, sports, or other activities. Even if you are angry with them, let them know you still love and respect them.

Understand the Danger of Gangs

Learn about gang activity in your area. Talk to your children about the negative things that gangs do, and how they can affect your child, their friends, your neighbourhood, and your family.

  • Do not allow your children to dress in gang-style clothing. Explain to your children that these items of clothing can put them in danger and that you will not purchase them or allow them to be worn.

  • Point out violent messages on television and in movies. Talk to your children about ways they can solve their problems without fighting or violence, and demonstrate the strategies in your own life.

  • Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. When children start to feel pressure to use drugs or join gangs, it usually comes from their friends.

  • Start educating your children at an early age. While five-year-olds may not understand about the effects of joining a gang, they can learn to say “no” to negative behaviour.

-Adapted from the National Alliance
of Gang Investigators Associations

Working with Gangs

  • Be decisive, firm, and fair. Lenient treatment of gang members is viewed as a weakness, and they will take full advantage of you.

  • Intimidation of gang members usually escalates into a confrontation and seldom creates respect. Remember, lectures used in order to merely scare a gang member usually won't work.

  • If media attention is needed, always play up the negative side of gang involvement (arrest, conviction, death, etc.) so as not to glorify the gangs.

  • When gang graffiti is discovered, recommend its removal as soon as possible. It will attract other rival gangs or invite more writings.

  • View each gang member or suspected member as an individual. They may be a poser or a wannabe and your actions could push them into full gang involvement. Don't be afraid to give young people respect.

  • Prevent conflict whenever possible. Previous experience has proven that an incident - no matter how minor today - can cause as many as 10 more gang-related or motivated acts of vengeance or reprisals, as much as two or more years later.

  • It is important to understand that gang or juvenile crime involvement often has had much to do with one's attitude as it has with behaviour.

  • Typical of students involved in gangs is a negative attitude towards anyone or anything that represents authority.

  • No matter what your level of response, don't leave the gang member feeling that you are harbouring a personal grudge against him or her.