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Definition of a Gang
A street gang is defined as a group or association of three or more persons who may have a common identifying sign, symbol or name, and who individually or collectively engage in, or have engaged in criminal activity, or as a juvenile commits an act that if committed by an adult would be a criminal act.
 
Types of Gangs
There are three different types of gangs they are as follows:

Hedonistic: Mostly social groups, the main focus of these gangs is partying and getting high. Members may commit property crime, but not usually as a gang activity.

Instrumental: These gangs are more likely to commit crimes against property than against people. Their motivation is money, not power or control.

Predatory: Social predators, these gangs commit violent crimes. They may use or sale drugs like crack. They feed on the fear they inspire, using it to dominate and control others.
 
Present Colors
The following information links gangs with their primary color:

Crips - Blue
Bloods - Red
BGD - Black
 
Typical Initiation
All gangs initiate new members by a process known as "beating in." The beat in could last from three to five minutes and entails current gang members hitting the new member anywhere on their bodies. The BGD also "bless in" their members. They bless them by placing an imaginary six-pointed star on the member's chest and then punch them once in the center of the chest.
 
 
Since the inception of the Columbus Police Department's Gang Task Force, in the spring of 1990, we have identified over thirty gangs in Columbus. Most of the gangs, in the Columbus area, are aligned with the Crips, the Bloods, or the Black Gangster Disciples (BGD) also known as Folks or Raiders.
 
Reasons Kids Join Gangs
  • Money
  • Sense of Belonging
  • Recognition
  • Intimidation
  • A Bridge from Childhood to Maturity
  • A Way to Kill Time (Bored)
  • Role Model to Follow (Big Brother Syndrome)
  • Direction and Code of Conduct
  • Second Generation (Born into a Gang)
  • Job Market
Gang Indicators
  1. Is a child wearing the same style or color of clothing every day?
  2. Has the child changed his/her circle of friends?
  3. Is the child "flashing" gang signs?
  4. Does the child have a new nickname?
  5. Is there graffiti on their book covers or notebooks?
  6. Does the child have a new tattoo, new jewelry, or a repetitive color scheme? (red shoes, scarves, bandanna, etc.)
  7. Does the child have an extreme style -- particularly one that s identical to someone else?
Top Four Ways to Raise a Gang Member
  1. Ignore your children - They will seek attention elsewhere.
  2. Do not participate in their school activities - They will seek the education of the streets.
  3. Don't get to know their friends - They will hang around those who impress them the most (usually those with negative lifestyles).
  4. Set a bad example - If you drink, use drugs, cheat and disrespect the law, so will your child.
Typical Pre-Gang Behavior

Pre-gang behavior usually begins at the elementary school age.

Children join gangs for a variety of reasons. The following list mentions some indictors that a youth is headed towards gang membership:

  • Draws gang insignias
  • Poor progress or achievement in school
  • Truancy from school
  • Lack of hobbies or something to do with leisure time
  • Problems at home
  • Puts tattoos on him or herself
  • Residence in a neighborhood where gangs exist
  • Friends are gang members or "Dressing Down" in gang attire
  • Wants to dress in traditional gang clothes (i.e. baggy pants, oversized t-shirts, bandanas)
While the above items are characteristic of gang involvement, keep in mind two pieces of information. First, not everyone who dresses like a gang member is a gang member. Second, some gang members do not dress or act-out like other gang members. Parents must be aware of the behavior and activities of their children. The best means for parents to prevent gang membership is to interact with their children.

Warning Signs of Possible Gang Involvement

  • Buying (or wants you to buy) an excessive amount of Blues, Reds, Blacks, or Browns for their wardrobe.
  • Wearing their pants sagging down "too low" on their hips.
  • Wearing a lot of gold & silver jewelry. (How and where did they get it?)
  • Willing to get, have or wear only certain types and colors of shoes, or shoe laces.
  • Using "Gang Slang" in their conversations with you or (mostly) with others.
  • Withdrawing from family members and not wanting to be around the family.
  • Having troubles at school: Lowered grades (and/or failing), fighting, suspensions, skipping, carrying weapons to school, getting home late (why?), etc.
  • Associating with "undesirables", especially those wearing too much of the same colors.
  • Not willing to tell you where, with who, or what they will be doing when out.
  • Not willing for you meet their friends, or give you information about them.
  • Staying out later than usual; and/or breaking curfew frequently.
  • Desiring to much privacy. (Very secretive, almost hiding out from family.
  • Developing a major attitude problem with you, teachers or others in authority. (physically and/or verbally aggressive, threatening, etc.)
  • Starting use drug, alcohol, tobacco, and/or having drug related items.
  • Using hand signs to friends and others.
  • Receiving and/or having money and or other items without your permission or awareness. (Stuff they cannot legitimately account for having.)
  • Carrying or talking about weapons (guns), beepers, portable phones, drugs, etc.
  • Getting tattoos on hands, arms etc. (gang names, slogans, insignias)
  • Writing gang type graffiti on clothes, books, and other things.
  • Saying that he or she has been initiated, blessed into, or is in a gang, wants to be or hangs out with other youth who they are in a gang.
  • Getting caught (maybe charged) with other youth in gang related activities.
  • When you are being told that your kid is gang involved by other people.
Actions to be Taken by Parents/Teachers/Professionals
 
If you suspect that your child is in a gang or may join a gang, you may consider taking the following steps:
  1. Collect all hats, shirts, and knowledge that are gang related.
  2. Contact a professional counselor to work with the kid in question.
  3. Protect your child by restricting gang related activities and encouraging other activities.
  4. Notify the following entities of the situation: local police, child's school, and the parent (if applicable).