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.
The Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) (opens in new window) is a network of different agencies and groups aiming to tackle the root causes of things like gang membership and prevent young people becoming involved in all aspects of gang criminality and exploitation. Visit its website to find specialist support and advice to help you, whether you are a young person directly involved, or have concerns about a family member or friend.
You can also visit the Bedfordshire Against Violence and Exploitation website (opens in new window) to find out more about how we are working with our partners to tackle serious youth violence and exploitation.