Signs That Your Teenagers Are In A Gang
It’s dinner time and you are wondering why your 17-year-old son is not yet at home. This has been happening lately and you also noticed that he’s not always at home, even on school days. Upon checking his room, you noticed some posters on the wall with symbols or foreign language that you’re not familiar with. His grades have dropped tremendously and his relationships toward his usual friends and siblings have changed. After a week, you received a call from the principal’s office asking for your presence to discuss a grievous incident where your son has been involved — a gang turf.
We all see from the movies what the world of being involved in a gang is — violence, drugs, sex, crime. The list goes on. What is more horrible and frightening is when we learn that our children are part or members of these gangs. Often, substance abuse plays a major part and as parents, we want to get addiction help for our children.
The word gang is a slang term for a group of persons involved in organized crime activities. It’s an intricate organization with networks or sectors situated in different locations and tries to dominate and control everything — from politics to government down to the community. Gangsters have been around since the 17th century and continue to evolve as time moves on. Presently, there are thousands of gangs all over the United States and the worse is their members are getting younger and younger every day.
How to detect teenagers who are involved in a gang
Children tend to change their attitude and behavior when they enter into the puberty stage. They value their privacy so much and their main objective is to get involved with social cliques. However, it is critical to consider what’s normal and no longer healthy when it comes to their social relationships. The following are signs to help detect if teenagers are engaging in gangs or other disruptive groups.
- Going home late at night or staying out late even on school days. They tend to have “extra” curricular activities other than those that they have in school. When they come home at night, they immediately go straight to their room, lock their doors, and would never want to speak with anyone. During weekends, they have so-called meet-ups, people to see and have “other stuff” to do, and when you ask them what, they would just brush it off.
- A change in their fashion style and room interior decoration. When did he start wearing a bandana and lots of accessories? Why the sudden interest in getting a tattoo or body piercing? There is something different in the way he walks, talks and uses bodily gestures. And when you check their rooms, which are always locked or has that “keep off” sign, you’re surprised to see posters of gang-related materials hanging on the walls. If you are noticing these subtle changes, chances are they might not just be doing a makeover or reinvention of their personalities. This may be a warning sign that they are imbibing a culture of a certain gang.
- Bringing home new found friends or meeting new friends that they do not share interests with. Sure, they want to extend and grow their circle of friends, but do you know who they are and where they met them? Any parent would surely love to see their children mingling and making friends. However, there are certain instances where they are finding new interests such as gangs and the parents would later know that their children are already in deep trouble, getting involved in gang related activities.
- The sudden interest in entrepreneurial schemes. You know things are getting serious when you see your kid keeping a stash of money hidden in his room, or getting hold of expensive things that you don’t remember buying him. When you confront him about it, he would say it’s out of school allowance! Most gang members are involved in selling illicit drugs and other illegal merchandise. So keep an eye on your children, especially when you notice them having large amounts of money.
- Increased signs of rebelliousness and getting involved in breaking the law. At first, it could be just a shoplifting incident in a convenience store or a squabble in the streets with other gangs. Then it would lead to major criminal activities like robbery, theft or even getting involved in a shooting incident.
Other signs that you need to include are:
- Grades and activities in school are getting compromised because of non-attendance and lack of interest.
- Signs of drug and alcohol abuse
- A sudden interest in the culture of certain gangs like listening to their music, learning their lingo, and getting nicknames.
- Avoidance in family gatherings. They prefer to be with his/her new found friends.
- Increased signs of being secretive and speaks in a hushed tone when caught speaking on the phone.
- Easily gets startled and may show signs of paranoia like feeling like he’s being followed or not wanting to be seen in public with other people.
It can be more horrifying to learn later on that our children are in deep trouble. The earlier we detect that they are into these groups, the earlier we can curtail and stop their involvement in gang-related activities, because it may be very hard to let go or stay away from gangs once you have entered their realms.