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This Gang Awareness Message is from Michael Leonard, Criminal Justice Consultant.


Message for Parents

What preventive steps can parents take to help their children avoid possible risk of gang membership?

Parents Should:
  • Praise your child and encourage him/her to do his/her very best.
  • Explain the dangers and consequences of being a member of a gang.
  • Share your disapproval of gangs and that you do not want him/her hurt.
  • Explain to your child that gang peer pressure means that he/she is letting someone else make decisions for him/her.
  • Discuss that joining a gang makes him/her dependent rather than an independent thinker
  • Have a zero tolerance for the display of gang names, symbols, or any other gang related graffiti on books, papers, clothes, bodies, walls or any other place.
  • Set boundaries by imposing curfews and requiring accountability for time.
  • Emphasize the importance of education and help your child do his/her best in school.
  • Monitor all activities on websites and the internet, because gangs recruit on the internet.
  • Involve your child in supervised, positive group activities in school, in church, in the community.
  • Become an active participant in your child’s life. Respect your child’s feelings and attitudes and help them develop high self-esteem.

What are the signs of possible gang involvement that parents should watch for? 

  • Changes in school attendance or school work habits
  • Non participation in family activities or withdrawal from family gatherings
  • Changes or new use of slang in the youth’s vocabulary 
  • Associates with undesirable friends and breaks parental rules consistently
  • Missing curfew or staying out later than usual 
  • Change in behavior by demanding too much privacy 
  • Participating in the use of alcohol or drugs 
  • Obtaining money or articles of clothing that are unaware to parents 
  • Emotional mood swings or changes in patterns of behavior. 
All of these can be seen as normal patterns of youth development. You need to have at least three of these identifiers in combination to indicate possible gang involvement.  Know the difference by being an involved parent.

Every community should have a complete and thorough gang assessment done by a professional gang expert.  Interested in a presentation to your business, church, civic group or classroom?

You can reach Michael Leonard Sr. at his email address


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