Parents need to realize that while there is nothing that can guarantee a child will not be lured into gangs or drug use, there are things that can be done to reduce the likelihood of that occurring. Also, if the child gets involved, chances are improved of retrieving the child. Many of the tactics that gangs use to entice youth are the same that parents should use to keep the child safe from these influences. Strong bonds are difficult to break. A strong, parent-bonded relationship with the child greatly decreases the probability of that child turning toward gangs or drugs.
The following are family bonding strategies:
IDENTITY – Give them a sense they are in the family, what values your family represents, and a sense of self-esteem.
PROTECTION – Food, shelter, clothing and a feeling that the family is a refuge from outside negative forces. A place where there is love and when hurt happens, a place where “wounds get licked.”
SENSE OF BELONGING – Acceptance is probably one of the strongest emotionally drawing forces. Families do not need to condone negative behavior, but it is important to still be loved and be an important part of the family – even when we make mistakes.
COMMUNICATION – One of the most important aspects of being a parent. Not only talk with your child about gangs, drugs, and other important issues they will face, but most importantly LISTEN to your child. Make the time to speak with and listen to them. Dinner time can be used as a time for the entire family to sit down and catch up on the day. Ensure there are no distractions like television or phone calls. Many parents will speak with their child but few want to listen. If you find yourself cutting them off, saying you don’t have time, or you don’t want to hear it, it won’t take them long to stop communicating with you.
BOUNDARIES AND LIMITS – Children do not feel loved or protected if there are no limits or boundaries. Boundaries should be set with thought and reasons for the purpose of teaching the child to make good choices.Often parents are afraid to set boundaries. They are afraid of hurting the child or afraid of rejection by the child. This is especially true of divorced parents. Gangs, on the other hand, have no problem setting limits – you cross the line, you pay the price!
SOME OTHER TIPS:
- Impress upon your child the importance of school and good grades
- Encourage good study habits.
- Respect your child’s feelings and attitudes and help them develop selfesteem.
- Watch closely for negative influences.
- Supervise the child’s activities.
- Monitor what they see and hear (Music, reading materials, television and movies).
- Be active in the P.T.A. and assist schools in rules, planning, student activities and student attendance.
- Spend quality time with your child and listen to him/her.
- Give your child a life philosophy or belief system that fills spiritual needs.
- Set good examples so your children can model themselves after the most important “role model” …YOU!
Advise your children they should not:
1. Associate with gang members or “wannabe/gonnabe” gang members;
2. Identify or communicate with gangs;
3. Hang out near or where gangs congregate;
4. Approach strangers in cars who appear to want information or directions;
5. Wear gang-related clothing where gangs are known to gather;
6. Wear initialed clothing such as BK – British Knights – a/k/a “Blood Killer” or CK – Calvin Klein – a/k/a “Crip Killer” in high crime areas;
7. Use words like “Crab” or “Slob” anywhere gangs may be; i.e., malls, sporting events, etc.
8. Attend any party or social event sponsored by gangs or their associates;
9. Take part in any graffiti activity or hang around where graffiti is present; or
10. Use any kind of finger or sign language in a public place.
REMEMBER: Gangs thrive on angry youth that lacks parental respect and
have loose family ties. They feed on children without an identity
and whose value system is faulty or compromised. They can
give your child a good feeling by giving them drugs and
promoting high self-esteem. This high self-esteem can come
from belonging to the gang and committing crimes, such as
stealing and selling drugs, which can put money in their pocket.
Who is needed to combat this problem?
It will take a combined effort of everyone in the community, including you, to
accomplish this task. You can assist law enforcement by taking an active role in your
community and report any suspicious behavior, suspicious individuals and graffiti to
you local law enforcement agency.