We all must strive to accurately and honestly identify the gang influence in our community. Many people still hang on to the traditional signs of gang involvement to gauge the youth gang influence in their community. We must be careful to not overlook subtle signs of a youth gang problem in the community. Here are some of the myths that we hear about:
1. Gangs are not in my community, they are a big city problem.
Actually, gangs and the gang culture are far reaching in today’s world. Their influence is felt in every city and town in the nation.
2. He’s just a "wanna-be", not a real gang member.
"Wanna-bes" are gonna-bes. A child who thinks, acts and looks like a gangster, runs the risk of being recruited by a gang. If your child acts like he wants to be a gang member, gang members will recruit him or mistaken him for a rival gang member.
3. My children are good kids, they aren’t in a gang.
Like it or not, gangs do effect your children. If not through direct gang involvement, then through their acceptance of the gang mindset. Emulating gang dress, attitude and life-style can have detrimental effects on your child.
4. There are no gang members living in my neighborhood.
Gang members can live in any neighborhood, regardless of the social status of the area. Gangs are highly mobile and can move in and out of any neighborhood.
5. Gangs only hang around in their own neighborhood.
Actually, gangs are mobile and are not often associated with a particular neighborhood.
6. Gangsters wear baggy clothing and athletic team baseball hats.
Gang style, baggy clothing has become the widely accepted "cool" way to dress among youth and no longer a definite sign of gang membership.
7. I know a gang member when I see one, and I don’t see any hanging around my neighborhood.
Gang members are harder than ever to identify in today’s society. Contemporary gangs are dressing more mainstream to be less obvious to police, teachers and parents. Behavior is a better indicator of gang involvement than physical appearance.
8. There is nothing I can do about gangs in my community.
Yes there is something you can do. The most important thing you can do is to send the right message to your children and your community. The message is: Gangs are not welcome here!