Parents, What You Can do to Help
“The chief problem in any community cursed with crime is not the punishment of the criminals, but the preventing of the young from being trained to crime” —W.E.B. Dubois
Skills As a Parent
Youth join gangs because they provide support, care, and a sense of order and purpose – all the things parents try to give to their children. Odds are that the more effectively parents meet these needs; the less likely children are to seek fulfillment through gangs. The following are important parenting skills to learn and use consistently:
- Talk with and listen to your child.
- Spend special quality time with each child.
- Put a high value on education and help your child do his or her best in school. Starting when they enter school and continuing through graduation.
- Help your kids identify positive role models and heroes, especially people in your community.
- Do everything possible to involve your children in supervised, positive group activities.
- Praise them for doing well.
- Encourage them to do their very best.
- Know what your children are doing and with whom.
- Find out about their friends and their friends’ families.
- Talk about gangs before they become a problem.
- Tell your child that you disapprove of gangs, and you don’t want to see them involved.
- Remind your child they’re special and worth protecting.
- Make yourself open to help your child with their problems.
- Encourage them to not keep secrets from you.
- Ask them to help you and other parents work together against gangs.
What to Look For!
Gangs leave signs of their presence. Your child may adopt some of those signs as either someone who wants to be a gang member, already a gang member or is imitating gang behavior and dress. Your child may be:
- Wearing specific colors or emblems on clothing
- Special hand signals to form letters with their fingers
- Gang symbols or graffiti on their room walls, books and school supplies, or clothing
- Major and negative behavior changes, such as:
- Declining school performance
- Staying out late at night without a good reason
- “Hanging around” with known or suspected gang members
- Carrying weapons
- Possessing unexplained, relatively large sums of money
Please keep in mind that just because your child may be reflecting one or more of these behaviors, it does not mean they are joining a gang. But this should be a warning to you to take a more active roll in your child’s life to correct this behavior.
Help Keep Gangs out
of Your Community
Everyone wants a gang free community. When gangs become active in your neighborhoods, everyone loses – children, parents and the community as a whole. If gangs take charge of your neighborhood, there are ways to take back control. Here is a partial list of methods to help keep gangs out of your communities.
First, develop positive alternatives for kids. What are some after-school and weekend activities kids can enjoy? Can the school offer its’ facilities? Can parents organize clubs or sports? Can older kids tutor or mentor younger ones? Can kids themselves contribute their ideas?
Second, talk with other parents. For one, you’ll find out what other parents know about gangs. You can also support each other and share knowledge that may help prevent problems. You’ll do better as a team than on your own.
Third, work with police and other agencies. Report suspicious activity, especially gang graffiti. Set up a Neighborhood Watch or other community patrol program with police support. Work with other agencies, like 2nd Chance to help combat gangs in your area.
Fourth, organize community resources. Put together a roster of resources available in your own community that you can turn to for help. In addition to the police, try any of the following individuals or groups:
- priest or minister
- family counselor
- community association
- school counselor or principal
- athletic coach
- Boys & Girls Clubs
- YMCA or YWCA
- Boy or Girl Scouts
- Police Activities League
- 2nd Chance Family & Youth Services or other community centers
Listen to Your Child! Be an Active, Not a Passive Parent!
Together We Can End the Cycle
- Article in the Salinas Californian
An article was published today about 2nd Chance...