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 towards his usual friends and siblings have changed. After a week, you received a call from the principal’s office and asking for your presence to discuss a grievous incident where your son has been involved — a gang turf.

 

We all see from movies what is the world of being involved in a gang — 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 a gang.

Source: coyotes.usd.edu

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, government, and the community.  Gangsters have been around since the 17th century and continues 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 are involved in a gang

Children tend to change attitude and behavior when they start the puberty stage. Privacy is highly preferred and getting involved in social cliques is the main objective. 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 they 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” that when you asked them what, they would just brush it off.

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  • A change in their fashion style and room interior decoration. When did he started wearing a bandana and lots of accessories? Why suddenly the interest of getting a tattoo or body piercings? There is something different in the way he walks, talk and use bodily gestures. And when you checked their rooms, to which they always lock or put a door sign “keep off”, you were surprised to see posters of gang-related materials hanging on the walls. If you are noticing these subtle changes, chances are he/she might not just be making a make-over or reinventing their own personalities. This may be the beginning that your son or daughter is imbibing a culture of a certain gang. 

 

  • Bringing home new found friends or meeting new friends that are not usual in their relations. Sure, they want to extend and grow their circle of friends. But are you sure who and where did they met them? Any parent would surely love to see their children mingling and making friends, however, there are certain instances that they are founding new interests in gangs and later did they know their children were already in deep trouble getting involved in gang related activities.

 

  • Sudden interest in entrepreneurial schemes. Now it’s getting serious when you are seeing that they have a stash of money hidden in their room, possess expensive things that you did not remember buying it for them, and when you confront them about it, they would say it’s out of school allowance? Most gang members are involved in selling illicit drugs and other illegal merchandises. This is where they get this large sum of money.

Source: iamintellectuallypromiscuous.com

 

  • 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, leading up 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
  • Sudden interest in the culture of certain gang like listening to their music, learning their lingo, and getting oneself a nickname. 
  • Avoidance in family gatherings preferred to be with his/her new found friends.
  • Increased signs of being secretive and speaks in a hush tone when caught speaking to a telephone.
  • Easily gets startled and may show signs of paranoia like being followed or not wanting to be seen in public with other persons.

 

It can be more horrifying to learn later on that our children are in deep trouble with gangs. The earlier we detect these in them, the earlier we can curtail and stop their involvement in gang related activities, because it can be very hard to let go or stay away from gangs once you have entered their realms.

 

A Sound Advice for Teens on Lifestyle Change

Today, where everything seems to be within your reach and so much information is handled over the internet pathway, it is particularly a very hard life to live especially for those in the adolescent phase.

Source: huffpost.com

Admit it. Not everyone, especially your parents, appreciates your dyed orange hair and the ripped jeans you bought at a steep price that has slashed your monthly allowance to its meager amount.  From your end, you can’t decipher if the looks that are shot your way when you walk in the room are all good or the exact opposite of it. You tend to question yourself if you were born on the right decade, eh?

How it was before you were born…

Parents have all the right to scold you and teach you of the right direction, and that is away from all the hype of the generation. Philosophers call it generation gap and the truth is that things have evolved so much. Your parents time is much different from your time – this is a fact.

We were taught at home and in school that we should obey our parents, and that we should conform to the norms of the society. You would like to do things your way, but it should be in a way that would not make you stand out for all the wrong reasons. 

In the past decades, we also had our own share of ripped jeans and shorts, but in contrast to today’s fab where shorts have become at its shortest and ripped jeans have merely a thread to hang on to, our jeans are ripped at the right places and our shorts are at modest lengths having always believed that you have to leave something for their imagination. 

Alcohol and other vices…

Having a night out with your friends is necessary to de-stress and unwind as long as you have done your part at school and not at its expense. 

A lot of clubs begin the fun fare at 10 in the evening until sunrise offering a variety of drinks and booze that at a newbies sight is near heaven. Careful, though. These cocktails are made with a mixture and a splash of several alcoholic beverages that can make you feel dizzy after several shots. You have to learn to identify the difference between social drinking and a drinking habit that’ll last a lifetime. For sure that at one point in your life, you have seen a faraway relative suffer the ill effects to drinking. So, hold your horses and think a hundredfold before taking that next shot of margarita in your hand. Not only will it have a long term effect to your body, it will also have an effect on your memory and your ability to concentrate since alcohol depletes your brain of glucose, which is necessary for it to function well.

Source: addiction.com

Also, if you frequent these clubs, some of them do not prohibit smoking within their premises. Oh boy, you may not be smoking yourself, but the ill effects of being able to inhale the smoke inside the club beats the effects of you smoking that cigar. In the recent statistics released by the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), lung cancer ranks 2nd in the overall morbidity and mortality of people worldwide and the majority of that statistic is caused by smoking. Both smokers and secondhand smokers have an equal risk of developing lung cancer with just a stick per day and with just a whiff of vape regardless of the flavor, kidding aside. 

Other than the things that we have just discussed above on why you should avoid drinking, the next dreaded complication of drinking is intoxication. You don’t know what will happen to you while heavily intoxicated since it is very difficult to control your senses. It is always a good thing to have someone you trust by your side the moment you pick up that first shot glass; just to watch over you and prevent you from making a fool out of yourself. 

To dye or not to dye

Sure, there is nothing wrong with dyeing your hair, but do so with a color that doesn’t say “Hey, I want some attention”. Forgive me for being so upfront about this but loud colors just say I’m walking in the room and I’m right here. It’s good to have that attention for the right reasons like doing good in school, appreciating your talents and skills, forming new hobbies and the likes.

Source: youtube.com

Dyeing has some ill effects on your locks. It causes the hair to lose the keratin and oil which is being produced at a regular basis. It also makes you prone to dandruff because of excessive dryness and with that, you don’t want white speckles of dandruff on your LBD, right? LBD is short for little black dress, if you don’t know.

Always remember that your parents just want what is best for you. Generation gap or not, it is always best to take good care of yourself and preserve your body. Consider it as a holy ground wherein you have to keep it clean all of the time. You owe it to yourself, to your parents and most of all to the One who created you. 

 

Life after Prison: Is There Hope?

Daniel (not his real name) is a 25-year-old drug dealer who served time and has been released to go back to the community. He stated that he has reformed and the process inside the prison has brought him to realization that he wants his normal and peaceful life back. But the problem now is, he’s having some doubts if he will ever function and regain his normal life back.

Source: rawstory.com 

What is recidivism?

When offenders get released from prison, some of them are not successful in the reformation process and regaining their normal lives. They tend to go back to their usual illegal and criminal acts, gets arrested again, and eventually be reconvicted and returned to prison. This is called recidivism

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Not all prisoners go back to their families and communities joyful and with positive outlook. The Bureau of Justice Statistics have reported that after three years of release, about two-thirds or 67.8% of these released prisoners gets rearrested and go back to prison. Reasons identified to the relapse of criminal behavior can be attributed not only to one single cause or factor. Experts have identified several factors that can cause the prisoners to return to criminal life: 

  • Lack of socialization. This could be from the notion that persons coming out from prisons have little or no friends aside from their acquaintances that are also related to criminal behavior. Therefore, they would initiate contact to their previous friends and will influence them again to commit illegal acts leading to recidivism.
  • Lack of job training. Prisoners sometimes don’t get the chance to undergo job skills training after they are released from prison. This can lead to returning to their usual activities that they are more comfortable with and much of these activities entail illegal acts of attaining financial resources.
  • Lack of employment opportunity or inability to obtain employment. This can be due to the stigma that these persons have been convicted due to a crime committed and has served time as penalty. Employers are sometimes afraid that these persons have high tendency of committing a crime again. As such, they would not get considered for the job.
  • Inability to reintegrate into society after returning from prison. The success of the person to go back to their communities can be assessed on how well he/she interacts and behave appropriately. This can be seen if he has obtained a job, increase social connections, and ability to interact with the rest of the community. For most of the returnees, this aspect is very difficult to achieve.
  • Antisocial attitudes. On a personal level, prisoners tend to possess innate antisocial attitude that despite of the reformation process in the prison, they will always negate with the norms of society and will continue to act irresponsibly.
  • Restlessness and impulsiveness. Being impatient and lacking the ability to control and critically think what will be the consequence of their actions will bring.
  • Association with other criminals. Apparently, some prisoners will have a hard time to dissociate themselves from their previous gangs or groups. The moment they know that the prisoner has gotten out, they can trace him and will bring him back to criminal life.
  • Lack of education. Statistically, prisoners are under-educated community compared to the general population. Despite of the ongoing education they can receive while serving time, some have lower reading levels for their ages, lack writing and math skills. With the lacking knowledge and skills to help them find a job, they would go back to the easiest way that they can think of, and that’s committing criminal acts.
  • Lack of support. This factor can mean lack of family support, true and good friends, and community resources to help the offender regain his normal life.
  • Substance abuse. Continuation of the offender to use illicit drugs and even alcohol intoxication can lead him back to doing illegal behaviors.
  • Neglect or abuse of parents or guardians. In the case of juvenile delinquents, the absence of a responsible parent or guardian is a major factor to lead them to negative peers and bad influence to commit criminal acts.

So, is there hope?

Even though there is still an ongoing stigma on prisoners going back to their communities, Daniel is hopeful that in due time and process, he will be able to live a normal and peaceful life. There are several strategies that can help him in attaining this goal:

Source: static1.squarespace.com

 

  • Continuing education. The purpose of imprisonment is not only to penalize the person for the crime that he committed, but to help in the reformation of behavior, attitude and outlook in life. There are prison education programs and vocational training programs that will help prepare the prisoners gain skills and knowledge to help them in their job seeking and eventually obtaining a job.
  • Professional help to undergo therapy and counselling. Psychologists believe that cognitive-behavioral therapy can help in rewiring the brain, thereby changing how the person think and behave appropriately.
  • Ongoing support. Family, social and community support are crucial on the system of recovery of the prisoner. An effective parole and probation system is the best answer to achieve this.

 

How to Help a Kleptomaniac

Have you imagined walking in the groceries with your family member or a loved-one and suddenly you caught them stealing? Have you seen somebody who looked rich but they sneakily steal an item and didn’t pay for it? These are some common instances where kleptomaniacs behave. Kleptomania also known as Klopemania is defined as an impulse control disorder wherein the person has the inability to control himself or refrain from stealing items other than personal or financial gains. Most of these behaviors happen during late adolescent and young adulthood years, happening more in women than in men. The condition was highly sensationalized because some famous Hollywood stars were caught or known to be doing such behaviors. 

Source: cosmopolitan.in

Now, what if they are your significant others or someone you love and care so much? The incident could create various reactions, of course – ranging from shock or disbelief, humiliation, anger, and frustration. Is there a cure for this condition? What would be the best thing to do to help them resolve or control these impulses from happening again. Here are some of the helpful ways in order to help them recognize and gain control.

  • Promoting awareness or assisting the individual recognize the signs and symptoms. It is helpful to know the signs, symptoms including behaviors that a kleptomaniac manifests. Some of them are: anxiety leading to theft, depression, gratifying feelings after theft, stealing without planning and developing remorse after committing it. Identifying triggers is also significant. There are underlying issues that a kleptomaniac is battling such as anxiety, depression or feelings of inadequacy that are left unresolved. Helping them identify these predisposing factors would mean the root cause will be eliminated. Equipping oneself of the knowledge and available resources that can be utilized about kleptomania. 

Source: swanwaters.com

 

  • Keep a diary or journal to record events pertaining to kleptomania. Write down the date, place, object stolen, and the trigger factor that lead to such behavior. This way, the person will be able to review and reflect on the episodes that he/she has done stealing and will help in the plan of not doing it again. 

Source: marycgottschalk.com

 

  • Approach them in a very calm, non-judgmental and helpful manner. Let them feel that you are there to help them avoid getting into problems or legal trouble. Explain the consequences of their actions. You can emphasize that it may lead to arrest, loss of a job and trust issues. 

 

  • Suggest the variety of treatment choices that can help them. According to psychiatrists, kleptomania can be a psychological condition originating from obsessive-compulsive disorders and will be requiring professional help. As such, kleptomaniacs may then require attending therapies specific to help and manage their conditions. Some of these therapies are behavior modification therapy, family therapy, cognitive behavior therapy and psychodynamics. Talking to a psychologist who can diagnose and suggest other treatment modalities. Also, support groups can be beneficial. This is where they can see compassion and encouragement for a successful recovery. 

 

  • Encourage the person to choose a hobby to occupy his time. In that way, he can divert his impulses into a more productive activity. They can focus their energy into making crafts, discovering new hobbies they have never tried before or meeting new set people that can inspire them to discover new things. Emphasize to them that gaining focus and being an asset in the community will do them more good.

 

Therefore, creating a non-judgmental, compassionate and helpful attitude around kleptomaniacs are vital into resolving this condition. It is also very important that we actively make them feel that we are involved in their process of overcoming this. A consistent communication regarding their development and keeping track of their progress. Overcoming this battle is a team effort.

Reasons Behind Troubled Teens

It has come to our attention lately that several criminal behaviors like shooting incidents at school that resulted to taking of quite a lot of innocent lives, were made by troubled teens. This pattern of behavior starts to be unbecoming for teenagers nowadays that made us think and look for reasons behind the minds of troubled teens.

Source: verywell.com

The adolescent period seems to be the most complex stage of development wherein the teenager finds him/herself in a crossroad struggling to find and confront his/her real self and at the same time establishing relationships with other peers. It is expected that many adolescents are emotionally labile. They often experience mood swings and without any apparent reasons would resort to rebellion or acting out behaviors.

Identified causes

One thing is for sure – there is no single cause to relate or link why teenagers tend to become irrational and troubled. It could be an interplay of the many factors that is happening around him or her that will lead to his current state of mind and behavior. 

 

Source: schoolsfortroubledteens.net

Studies show that familial support or the presence of both parental figures are critical to the emotional development of the adolescent. Those who have experienced separation from any parental figure tend to become more erratic and would choose peers or will look for an adult that will serve as role model and guardian. It would be pleasant to know if the group of persons they seek attention to are able to provide effective role modeling. The problem would rest on bad role modelling behaviors; hence, adolescents will follow and imbibe values and practices that could affect their psychological state.

Source: esme.com

To reinforce the statement, peer group influence and pressure to belong in a group can also contribute to teen problems. As Erik Erikson explained, there is a constant search for being recognized during the adolescent period. This seeking of attention often leads to negative influences and inadvertent challenges that could only prove one’s loyalty to the group.

It is also apparent the great influence of internet technology to the adolescents nowadays. Teenagers engage more on virtual reality games that are getting more violent and darker in themes and contents. These aspects of the world wide web entertainment have been linked to aggressive and callous behaviors.

Is there a remedy for troubled teens?

Managing a troubled teen is not like taking a pill to lower down temperature or fighting a cold overnight. It will take a certain process or steps that will entail cumulative support from family, friends, school and even the community where the teenager belongs. 

Yes, there is remedy. The earlier it is detected and the more willing the teenager to undergo rehabilitation, there is a big chance for reform and recovery. 

Acceptance on the teenagers’ personality, thoughts and relationships are already considered a big leap of success in trying to understand them.