Recognizing gang activity in your child's behavior.
A gang is a group of people who get together on a regular basis to carry out violent or illegal activities and who have some recognizable trademark, name, or symbol. Gang activities may include intimidation, assault, vandalism, burglary, the selling of illegal drugs, and even murder. Gang members generally tend to be male teenagers, but they can also be female and even as young as 7 years old. The Suffolk Police Department has observed evidence of gangs in every social, academic and ethnic category. G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) is taught in the local school system, officers spend time in the middle and elementary schools to interact with the students.
Look for these signs that may indicate a child may be involved with a gang:
- The child dresses in the same color clothing everyday or wears tattoos, unusual jewelry or clothing that could identify a particular gang.
- The child is carrying guns, knives or other weapons.
- The child begins hanging out with a new group of friends.
- There is a change in the child's habits or personality.
- You find evidence of or suspect drug or alcohol abuse.
- The child frequently shows signs of being bruised or injured.
- You observe the child using unusual hand signs, nicknames or street language.
- You observe strange symbols or graffiti on notebooks and folders.
- The child withdraws from family members or friends.
- Grades fall and/or incidents requiring discipline become more frequent.
- The child obtains money without your knowledge.
Gang Prevention Handout : June 2016
Here are some questions that we regularly receive regarding gangs and gang membership.
What is a Gang?
A group of three or more individuals in association with each other using some type of identifier and committing a crime (Misdemeanor or felony).
Why do People Join Gangs?
Young people join gangs for a variety of reasons. They include reasons such as: status, power, excitement, economic benefit, protection, friendship, need for a sense of belonging or family or love.
What types of people join gangs?
Gang members can no longer be stereotyped into groups by race, gender or economics. We are finding gang members are male and female, from all races, all cultures and all economic levels.
What do gang members look like?
Gang members normally wear the same style or color of clothing. They may wear bandanas or beads, or other items of the same color. Tattoos with similar signs or words, and the use of hand signals to communicate with each other are also often seen with gang members.
How do I know if I have a gang in my neighborhood?
If you notice several individuals wearing the same type of clothing/colors, using hand signals and/or graffiti in your neighborhood these would be good indicators of a gang presence.
How can I report a gang problem in my community?
Contact the Suffolk Police Neighborhood Enforcement Team . Please leave your name, address, contact number and any information related to possible gang activity in your community.
How can I get someone to speak on gangs to my neighborhood group?
Contact the Suffolk Police Neighborhood Enforcement Team or fill out the request for Speaker form found on our website under Stay Informed.
What should I do if I find graffiti in my neighborhood?
If you find graffiti in your neighborhood, contact the Suffolk Police Department Neighborhood Enforcement Team. They will come and photograph the graffiti to determine if it is gang related and they will contact the owner to have it removed. Or you can click on the Report Graffiti button and complete the attached form. Once you submit it, it will be routed to the appropriate staff person for handling.