Children often have unsupervised time.
Gangs have been reported in all 50 states and have had a persistent presence in all cities with a population over 250,000 every year since 1996 (National Youth Gang Center, 2005). Gang problems remain the most widespread in large cities (populations of 100,000 or more) with nearly 99 percent of law enforcement agencies in these cities reporting multiple years of gang problems (National Gang Center, 2009).
Gang activities can fill the excess time.
They experience excitement at every stage of a crime, are concrete thinkers, have little interest in responsible performance or a display of ownership.
Each gang member wants to be in charge, but often has poor leadership skills, is chronically angry and defensive, cannot be structured or do tasks for a protracted period of time.
Gang activities appear exciting to children.
The more violent gang member can be callused, remorseless, lack realistic long-term goals, be prone to easy boredom and have poor impulse control.
Today in many mature, modern criminal street gangs violence is often a means to an end.
Children, especially teens, like to take risks.
There is no single definition of a gang, but there are a number of widely accepted criteria for classifying groups as gangs (Decker and Curry, 2003; Esbensen et al., 2001; Klein, 1995; Miller, 1992; Spergel, 1995). This review used the following criteria: (1) the group has three or more members, generally aged 12-24; (2) members share an identity, typically linked to a name and/or symbols; (3) members view themselves as a gang, and they are recognized by others as a gang; (4) the group has some permanence and a degree of organization; and (5) the group engages in a significant level of criminal activity. For these purposes, adult organized crime groups, hate groups, ideology groups, and militia groups were excluded.
Gangs provide many opportunities to take risks and find excitement.
There were approximately 28,100 active gangs across 3,500 jurisdictions in 2009 according to law enforcement estimates. This represents an increase of more than 20 percent in both indicators since 2002 (Egley and Howell, 2011). In 2009, it was estimated that there were 731,000 gang members, a figure that is unchanged from 2002.
Report related activities to the police.
One in five (20 percent) public schools reported gang activity in the school during 2007-2008 (Dinkes, et. al. 2009). In 2007, 23 percent of students ages 12â18 reported that there were gangs at their schools. Over half of schools with 1,000 or more students reported that gang activities occurred during the school year, while less than a quarter of schools with less than 1,000 students reported the problem.
Challenge your children to expand their interests.
Being a member of a gang increases the likelihood of involvement in criminal activity and violent offending and being a direct or indirect victim of violent crime. Gang activity has been documented extensively to include the full range of violent and property offending, as well as drug distribution, weapons trafficking, prostitution, extortion, and other economic crimes to finance the gang (Langton, 2010).