Warning Signs That Your Child May Be Involved With A Gang

Gang involvement does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process and if you are alert you will see warning signs.

Exhibits negative changes in behavior such as:

  • Withdrawing from family
  • Declining school attendance, performance, behavior
  • Staying out late without reason
  • Displaying unusual desire for privacy or secrecy; does not want parents to enter his/her bedroom
  • Exhibiting signs of drug use, including alcohol
  • Breaking rules consistently
  • Has been in trouble with police

Exhibits gang characteristics or culture such as:

  • Admits to “hanging out” with gang members; or admits to gang membership
  • Shows unusual interest in one or two particular colors of clothing or a particular logo
  • Has unusual interest in gangster-influenced music, videos, movies or web sites
  • Begins “dressing down” or “staffing and bagging” in gang attire
  • Uses unusual hand signals to communicate with friends
  • Speaks in gang-style slang
  • Draws, or has specific drawings of gang symbols/signs on school books, clothes, walls or tattoos
  • Comes home with unexplained physical injuries such as fighting-related bruises, injuries to hand/knuckles
  • Has unexplained cash or goods, such as clothing or jewelry
  • Carries a weapon

These items are characteristic of gang involvement. However, some people who join or associate with gangs do not dress in the traditional attire and do not exhibit conspicuous behavior to show their gang involvement in order to hide themselves from law enforcement.