The scary reality is that nearly every city and town in America has a gang. But would you know if your teenager was in a gang? Here are the signs that you need to look out for.
I was one of those parents who always thought that my teenager would never be involved in a gang. I woke up to the reality one day when I searched his computer and found out he was part of a small gang. I was totally blindsided. Now that I look back, there were so many warning signs that I missed.
- Clothing- Clothing is the first noticeable sign of any kind of gang activity. Gangs have their own dress code and they stick by it. The typical gang dress code is khaki pants, white t-shirt and bandana. Baseball caps are also worn and are either red or blue or have a sports team logo and are either worn backwards or to one side. The Crips gang always wears blue and Blood gangs always wear red. Sometimes the white t-shirts are worn under plaid shirts and may be tied at the collar only. Jeans may also be worn instead of khakis and are always baggy with boxers showing. Some gangs favor one side of their body so they may wear their left pant leg rolled up, for example.
- Hand Gestures- All gangs use some form of hand gesture as a form of communication. Some gangs can carry on a conversation with other gang members without anyone knowing what they are talking about.
- Friends- If you know or believe that your teenager is hanging out with a gang member; it is time to do some investigating. Go through their computer and cell phones like I did and monitor their conversations.
- Possessions- One of the telltale signs that I missed was that my son would come home with money and merchandise that he could not account for. When I asked him where he got the stuff he would always tell me his friend gave it to him.
- Slang Words- There are many slang words that gang members use.
Gangbanger- active gang member
Homeboy or Homegirl- gang member
Nut Up- angry
Packing- carrying a gun
Rag- color of a gang
Tagger- graffiti user
- Behavior- A change in your teenager behavior is a significant sign that your teenager may be involved in a gang. Does your teen miss school often? Does he/she hang out with suspicious people? Do they need a lot of privacy? Do they disobey curfew? Have they suddenly taken an interest in drugs or alcohol? Has their mood changed? Has he/she had a sudden drop in grades? These may be telltale signs of gang activity.
If you discover your child is in a gang, immediately call the school’s resource officer or the local police gang unit!