Street gangs have been prevalent in the US since the 1920s, and teenagers started forming their own gang alliances in the 1950s. Even though the amount of gang activity has been reducing nationwide since 2000, there are still an estimated 772,500 people involved in one of the more than 24,000 active gangs, and many of them are teenagers. It is also important to note that every city in the country with a population of 250,000 or higher has at least one gang right now.
Therefore, parents need to take the time to carefully monitor their child's behavior for the potential warning signs of gang activity. Keep in mind that teenagers are more likely to become involved in a gang, but this does not mean that a younger child is not at risk.
Getting into Trouble with the Law
Although not every instance of theft or violence at school is gang related, it is a potential warning sign that your child has gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd. If charges are filed, it will be imperative to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to help protect your child from dealing with serious legal consequences. In fact, many lawyers will recommend a gang intervention program to the judge in lieu of sending the offender to a juvenile facility or even jail, and this can make a major difference in your child's future.
For example, a program in Clark County Nevada encourages teenagers involved with a gang to train on equipment that is utilized by professional athletes in order to keep them off the streets. In this case, a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney could recommend this as an optional program to participate in versus the threat of jail.
Suddenly Changing Friends
It is common for children and teenagers to develop new friendships on a regular basis, but it can be indicative of an issue with gangs or drugs if they suddenly drop all of their old friends in favor of new ones. Because of this, parents need to stay involved enough to be aware of the people that their children are hanging out with. Additionally, any teenager who suddenly stops bring their friends to the house could be well aware that their parents would not approve of the gang members that they are now associating with.
Issues with Truancy
It is definitely a warning sign when a good student stops attending school on a regular basis. Unfortunately, some parents do not find out about this particular issue until it is too late. With this in mind, you need to be proactive and ensure that the contact number for their school's truancy department is your cellphone so that your teen is less likely to be able to intercept absence messages when they skip class.
Any child or teenager who acquires large amounts of cash or is caught carrying a weapon has most likely already become seriously involved with gang or drug activity. Therefore, if you discover one of these warning signs in your home, you will need to take immediate action to protect your child. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have indicated teenagers between the age of 15 and 19 account for approximately 42 percent of the victims of gang homicide.
Another important thing to look out for is the appearance of gang symbols and clothing such as constantly wearing a bandanna, hat or shirt that displays the same primary colors. If you are uncertain which colors and symbols are utilized by local gangs, you can contact the police department for more information. Ultimately, it is up to each parent to educate themselves enough to be able to recognize each major warning sign so that they can get their child help before being involved in a gang destroys their life.
It is vital to understand the importance of recognizing the warning signs of child involvement in gangs, especially when crime activity is involved. Here on the site of a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney, you can see the kind of legal charges a person can face when involved in violent crimes, including theft and robbery.