New Mexico Gang Task Force
Definition: A gang is an organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, which has a common name and/or common identifying signs or symbols, whose members individually and/or collectively engage in criminal activity.
Why do Kids Join Gangs?
- Kids may claim that it leads to excitement and recreation
- Its a fad, the “in thing”
- Perception of belonging
- Peer pressure
- Protection (real or perceived)
- Lack of family life
- Family ties to gangs
- Identity through recognition
- Brotherhood/inter personal bonding
- Low self esteem
- Close friends are gang members
- Lack of supervision
- Desire to belong to a group
- Peer admiration
Gang Recruitment Tactics
Gangs pressure kids into joining gangs by using the following methods:
- Peer pressure, offers protection
- Threaten safety of friends/family members
- Monetary inducements
- Challenge kids to take risks
- Invite to parties where gang related activities are occurring
- Family members already belong
Consequences of Gang Involvement
- In trouble with law enforcement
- Drop in performance at school
- Withdrawal from family
- Risk of injury in a “jump-in” by own gang
- Drug and alcohol involvement.
- “Dirty Work” for the gang.
- Lose opportunity for education/employment
- Spend time in detention or jail
- Possibility of losing family or friends
- Risk of personal injury or death Risk of families life
- Endless amounts of threats, assaults, and possible drive-by shootings
Identification or affiliation with gangs does not happen overnight. Pre-gang behavior begins at the elementary school age.
- Poor progress or achievement in school
- Truancy from school
- Lacks hobbies or something constructive or positive to do with leisure time
- Frequent negative contact with school officials and/or police
- Draws gang symbols or insignias
- Problems maintaining relationships with family
- Puts tattoos on self
- Friends dress in gang attire.
- Wants to dress in gang attire.
Gang members and associates take pride in their affiliation with gangs. They will often write their nickname and gang logo on school notebooks, clothing (jackets, handkerchief, etc.), personal items and bedroom walls. This may serve as a first sign that your child may be, or is becoming, involved with some sort of gang activity.
Some youth who join or associate with gangs do not dress in traditional gang clothes and do not exhibit conspicuous behavior that indicates gang involvement.
- Graffiti Youths Hanging Out
- Increase in Crime – gang related acts such as vandalism, assaults and burglaries
Reporting Gang Problems
If you are worried about gang retaliation, keep in mind that calls to the police can be made and kept anonymous. Do not hesitate to call 911 in case of an emergency.
Neighbors – Get Organized
You and your neighbors can work to eliminate gangs and drugs from your community and neighborhood.
The key is organization: Get to know the neighbors on your block.
Contact your local law enforcement agency for advice and assistance for organization tips.
- Arrange for a reliable adult to be present to supervise teen’s and children’s functions.
- Help the teen or child become involved in athletics or other group activities that interest her/him.
- Set reasonable rules and enforce them consistently.
- Demonstrate how to set goals.
- Monitor and support teen’s or child’s progress.
- Teach social skills that enhance self esteem.
- Educate the teen or child about the dangers of gang involvement.
- Provide strong religious background.
- Keep an open line of communication with your teen or child.
- Deal with issues, not opinions.
- Know your child’s friends and where they hang out.
- Keep track of your child’s work at school.
- Teens and children need to be involved with positive activities without a lot of leisure time.
- Keep them involved in after school activities, athletics, or a job along with family time.
Signs of Gang Involvement
- Changes in attitude or behavior.
- Showing colors (bandanna’s, t-shirts, jackets, shoes, ball caps).
- Association with known gang members.
- Unwilling to discuss their activities.
- Loss of family interest.
- Reluctance to be seen with other family members.
- Return home with unexplained cuts and bruises.
- Trouble with law enforcement.
- Trouble at school.
- New Friends.
- Tattoos or graffiti style writing on clothing articles or books.
- Disregard of person or property.
- Increased likelihood of drug and alcohol use.