Take Action! --Everyone must work toward solutions to the gang problem.
Become Informed -- The first step in prevention is to learn about gangs, gang members and their activities. Citizens armed with basic knowledge of prevention (awareness-enforcement-education) are better able to avoid becoming victims of gang violence. These gang information pages are just a start... Do your research, talk and network with other parents as well as educators and police. As you become more educated and informed, share the information and work to develop greater awareness of street gangs within your community.
Establish Neighborhood Watch -- Contact your local law enforcement agency for up-to-date gang information. They can also help you to organize a Neighborhood Watch program in your community. A gang's power increases through their use of fear and violence to intimidate rival gangs and citizens alike. This tactic can be countered by citizen action groups such as Neighborhood Watch. A neighborhood that is united in their goal to stop gang crime and violence can be an effective force in curbing gangs.
Cooperate with Police -- When gang incidents occur in your neighborhood, cooperate with your local Police Department. Your help may prevent others from becoming victims of gang violence. Any information about gang crimes, wanted suspects or any violent gang activity should be reported to local police. Remember, fighting crime and dealing directly with violent gang members are best left to experts trained to handle dangerous situations.
Help Support Your Community -- Youths loitering after school or "hanging out" provide a breeding ground for gangs. Communities can offer young people alternatives to gang involvement. This includes organized activities for children and teenagers through recreation departments, schools, churches and youth organizations. Communities should seek support from local businesses and industries to employ and train youths.
Parents are the first lines of defense in combating the gang problem. It is up to each parent to show the child that they are loved. It is not enough to simply say, "I love you." Your child needs parental interaction to show him or her that you really do love him and you care about his welfare. Youths join gangs for a variety of reasons. Many join because they do not have, or do not feel like they have, a family life. A gang promises to give this feeling of "family" to the youth. Other youths join gangs due to peer pressure, excitement, money, or intimidation. Whatever the reason, a parent needs to recognize the identifiers and telltale signs of gang membership in order to make every possible attempt to keep the youth in, or return him to, his "real family."
Educators are equally important in shaping a child's life. Like parents, an educator must show the child that they not only care about them as individuals, but also, about the future that lies ahead of each of them.
Schools should not allow gang clothing, colors, or gang signs and symbols to be worn or displayed on school grounds. "Zero tolerance" is a policy adopted by many school districts. Additionally, administrators and educators need to keep parents "in the loop" and communication with parents regarding potential gang involvement is crucial.
Classroom discussions about gangs are an excellent means to convey the proper message to the students. These discussions can lead to a real learning experience, not only for students, but for educators as well. Like the parents, the educator, without some knowledge as to how to identify gangs, will not recognize signs of gang activity and therefore lose a valuable tool; a tool or aid that not only will assist in communications and interactions with students, but with other educators, parents and law enforcement.
Finally as parents, we need to help our children feel safe, self confident and respected:
Spend quality time with your children.
Become involved with your children’s school activities.
Establish rules, set limits and be consistent. Know where your children are at all times.
Encourage good study habits.
Become a model of self-esteem that your children will want to emulate.
Respect you children’s feelings and attitudes, and help them develop a strong sense of self-esteem.
Watch for negative influences that might lead to abuse, gang membership or delinquent behavior.