What can I do as a......


    As a parent:

    Many gang members say they joined because the gang offered them support, caring and a sense of order and purpose—all the things most parents try to give their kids. The odds are that the better you meet these needs, the less need your children will seek for gangs. Here are some parenting skills that are especially important:

    • Talk with and listen to your child. Spend some special time with each child and give consistent love and attention.
    • Be clear and consistent with rules and discipline.
    • Put a high value on education and help your child do his or her best in school. Do everything possible to prevent dropping out.
    • Help your kids identify positive role models and heroes—especially people in your community.
    • Be good role models and teach kids how to:interact socially;
    • handle competition and defeat;
    • learn and follow school policies;
    • respect all students, faculty, and family members;
    • discuss and appreciate differences;
    • avoid teasing, name calling, and other actions that could be hurtful;
    • resolve conflicts nonviolently;
    • deal with frustration in solving problems; and,
    • cope with anger, stress, and peer pressure.
    • Know your kids, their friends, and how they spend their time.
    • Talk about acceptable views on crime, violence, weapons, and the appropriate forms of self-defense.
    • Limit exposure to crime and violence.
    • Keep guns and other weapons locked up and out of reach.
    • Support school discipline policies.
    • Make sure children attend class and complete homework.
    • Get to know teachers and administrators.
    • Encourage extracurricular activities.
    • Attend parent-teacher conferences.
    • Serve on school safety or PTA committees.
    • Contact staff or authorities if a child has a concern, problem, or has been a victim at school.
    • Work with other parents to help children stay safe when going to and from school activities.
    • Get family counseling if needed.
    • Do everything possible to involve your children in supervised, positive group activities.
    • Praise them for doing well and encourage them to do their very best—to stretch their skills to the utmost.
    • Know what your children are doing and with whom. Know about their friends and their friends’ families.
    • Address the issue.
    • It is important to discuss with your child gangs and the problems they can create. The best time to talk about gangs is before there’s a major problem. Tell your child that:You disapprove of gangs.
    • You don’t want to see your child hurt or arrested.
    • You see your child as special, and worth protecting.
    • You want to help your child with any problems he or she might face.
    • Family members don’t keep secrets from each other.
    • You and other parents are working together against gangs. It is important that you really listen to what your child has to say.
    • Talk with other parents. For one thing, you’ll find out what everyone else’s parent really said.

    As a citizen:

    • If you suspect gang activity in your area, contact the police immediately. Gangs often lead to crime problems, and the police should be made aware of potential problem areas.
    • Develop positive alternatives. Are there after-school and weekend activities kids can enjoy? Can the school offer its facilities? Can older kids tutor or mentor younger ones? Can the kids themselves help with ideas?
    • Work with police and other agencies. Report all suspicious activity; set up a neighborhood watch or a community patrol; let the police know about gang graffiti; get (and share) the facts on the gang problem in your community; find out what local services—non-profit as well as government—will work with communities to help avoid gang problems.

    After contacting the police:

    • Get organized against the gang organization. Use the system. Work with the local authorities and city or school organizations.
    • Use your neighborhood association or get together with others to form a new group.
    • Get help with a variety of sources right in your community.
      • In addition to the police: religious leaders, family counselors, community associations, school counselors or principals, athletic coaches, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA/YWCA, Scouts, drug abuse prevention groups, youth-serving agencies and community centers—just to name a few.