Why do young people join gangs?
Young people join gangs for reasons which make sense to them, if not to adults.
Some reasons why young people may join a gang are:
- Respect and status
- To gain friends
- A sense of belonging
- To find a substitute family
- Peer pressure
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
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.
Find out more on where to go if you have a concern.