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. Read more about gang prevention (PDF).
Recognizing Gang Activity in Your Child's Behavior
Look for these signs that may indicate a child may be involved with a gang:
- The child begins hanging out with a new group of friends.
- The child dresses in the same color clothing every day or wears tattoos, unusual jewelry or clothing that could identify a particular gang.
- The child frequently shows signs of being bruised or injured.
- The child is carrying guns, knives or other weapons.
- The child obtains money without your knowledge.
- The child withdraws from family members or friends.
- Grades fall and/or incidents requiring discipline become more frequent.
- There is a change in the child's habits or personality.
- You find evidence of or suspect drug or alcohol abuse.
- You observe the child using unusual hand signs, nicknames or street language.
- You observe strange symbols or graffiti on notebooks and folders.