Spotting signs that your child might be involved with a gang
A young person may exhibit just some or all of these signs if they’ve started becoming involved in a gang, although some changes in behaviour (such as their taste in music or fashion style) are typical of many teenagers, so view them in the wider context of your child’s general behaviour.
- They may change to a specific style of dressing and you notice that their friends all dress in the same way.
- They could start getting into trouble at school and/or at home and begin to talk differently, using new slang or language with an aggressive tone.
- Your child may have money and possessions you didn’t give to them and they can’t, or won’t, explain where they got them from.
- You may notice they have unexplained injuries and are staying out unusually late or have graffiti-style tags on their possessions.
- They could develop an interest in music that glorifies weapons or gang culture, or even have weapons themselves.
- You may also find evidence of them accessing gang profiles on social networks or watching gang videos on YouTube.
- If your child is involved in a gang they may be scared and not want to talk about it. It is important that they know you want to listen and support them. Make sure they know they have a choice.
Ask questions, but listen too. Don’t be afraid of confrontation but try not to approach them with anger and accusations. Try to understand the situation from their point of view and why they have joined the gang. Ask them what you can do to help. Try to agree about what they should do next. Work with them to find solutions and choices.
Seek help from local community organisations or youth services
They can offer specialist support and programmes to help them leave the gang. Contact local support networks such as faith groups or neighbourhood police officers connected to your local school.