Gangs and gang violence in the United States is on the rise, and one other thing that is on the rise is the number of teens joining gangs. According to the latest statistics, there are almost a million teenage gang members in the US in over 25,000 gangs. Those are some scary numbers, really scary numbers. So why do kids, teens go to those gangs? Most of the kids join the gang at the age of 12 to 14, and 1 out of 4 members of aging is a teenager, so what is it that makes them join a gang?
Teen gang involvement and violence can come from many things, first violence comes with gangs, but where does gang involvement come from? There are multiple reasons for teens to join a gang, the first and foremost is to be protected and to belong somewhere. Other teens do it for the chance of making money; some just seek trouble as a thrill. The important fact is that most of these kids chose to belong to a gang on their own, nobody is forcing them. Majority of kids that are in a gang could refuse their gang involvement, but they didn’t.
What parents need to realize that gangs and violence go hand to hand, so once a teenager joins a gang he is 60 times more likely to be a victim of a homicide than an average citizen. The biggest problems with gangs are that some of them take refuge in schools and they use schools to recruit their new members. So you might not live in a dangerous neighborhood, but gangs can still come to your child.
There are a few signs of gang involvement that parents can look out for. The first thing you will notice as a parent is that your child changes friends, after that the most likely thing to happen is the change of wardrobe and dressing habits. Gang members tend to wear recognizable colors, so if your child is always wearing the same color combination that could be one of the general signs of gang involvement. But you need to be careful with that one, that just might be is or hers new favorite combo that is not gang related. But combined with scribbles of gang symbols on books, clothing, maybe even a tattoo is a sign that something is happening. If your child is spending more than you gave him that is also a bad sign, combined with a weapon and losing interest in school and other important things are all signs of problems and changes, mostly for the worst.
There are other signs, more obvious unfortunately, and they are the ones you don’t wish to see, because that is the period when it’s almost too late. Fortunately the key word is almost, because it is never too late to help your child. But if your child gets arrested or starts using drugs and alcohol, you will have a much harder time dealing with the situation. Noticing the signs and looking after your child is the first step to overcoming any problem. There are several institutions and boarding schools that help teenagers and their families in similar situations, don’t be afraid to help your child.