The vast majority of young people are not involved in gangs and want nothing to do with them. However, the behaviour of the small number of young people who are involved has a significant impact on communities, on their families and associates, as well as themselves.

Why do young people join gangs?
Young people join gangs for reasons which make sense to them, if not to adults. Some reasons  are:
——   Respect and status
——   To gain friends
——   A sense of belonging
——   Excitement
——   To find a substitute family
——   Power
——   Protection
——   Money
——   Peer pressure

Gangs often leave signs of their presence and your child might adopt some of these signs; either as a member or as an associate of a gang. Any sudden changes in your child’s lifestyle should be discussed.
Signs may include:
Specific dress style
——Poor behaviour
——Talking differently – new slang or language with an aggressive tone
——Poor school results or skipping school
——Carrying weapons
——Unexplained injuries or sums of money/possessions
——Staying out unusually late
——Graffiti style tags on possessions
——Interest in music which glorifies weapons/gang culture
Gangs will often have profiles on social or networking websites like Facebook or Twitter

What can you do?
There are things you can do to help stop your child from being involved in gangs.
*Talk to your child and listen
——*Encourage them to get involved in positive activities and to think about their future employment
——*Get involved in your child’s school activities
——*Know your child’s friends and their families
——*Always know where your child is and who they are with
——*Help them to cope with pressure and how to deal with conflict without use of violence
——*Speak to them about the serious consequences that occur from violent or illegal behaviour.
*Help them to understand the dangers of being in a gang and find constructive alternative ways to use their time
*Keep lines of communication open
——*Be aware of what your child is doing on the internet
——*Look for ways of disciplining children that do not involve harshness, anger or violence
*Work with other parents and schools to watch their behaviour
——*Contact local voluntary organisations that provide mentoring and other support for young people
——*Talk about your child’s behaviour with their school and other parents

If your child is already involved in a gang, they may not want to talk about it or be scared. It is important that they know you want to listen and support them. Make sure they know they have a choice.

Stay calm. Ask questions, but listen too. Don’t be afraid of confrontation, but try not to approach them with anger and accusations. Try to understand the situation from their point of view and why they have joined the gang. Ask them what you can do to help. Try to agree about what they should do next. Work with them to find solutions and choices. Seek help from local community organisations or youth services.
They can offer specialist support and programmes to help them leave the gang.  Contact local support networks such as faith groups or neighbourhood police officers connected to your local school.