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Is your Daughter involved with GANGS?
Terry Davis, November 2003
Indicators of Gang Involvement and Association.
As parent's we want to protect or daughter's from gang's and the violence that surrounds them. The problem is, must of us don't know anything about gangs or their culture. What indicator's should we be looking for? How can we tell the difference between normal teenage behavior, and the behavior connected with involvement with gang's and gang member's?
This is a difficult task. You need to learn about gang's in general, colors' used by gang's to identify themselve's. Hand signs and gestures that gang member's use to identify themselves and the gang/gang set, that they identify with.Style of clothing, and in the case of female's, the style they wear their hair, and make-up.Know the difference between tattoo's for adornment and tattoo's that represent gangs.
You must also know your daughter.Her likes and dislikes, her personality, and her friends.In other words, you must have a baseline to compare prior behavior, with behavior that may indicate she is gravitating towards gangs.
The following indicators by themselves can not be taken as indicator's of gang association, but may be normal teenage behavior. However, if you identify a few to a lot of these indicators being present in your daughter, the odds are high she is begining to associate with gang member's.
All female gang's are becoming more prevalent with-in the gang culture, and are on the rise. They are structured the same as male gang's in most cases, and rival their male counterparts in their trend towards violence and crimes, and in some case's are more violent.
As your daughter enters High School and in some case's, Junior High School or Middle School. They find themselves being bombarded with peer pressure. What group to identify with, cheerleader's, geek's, Elmo's, skateboarders, dopers, gangsters or any-other group at that school. The hormone's are also rising and create an entire set of problems of their own, which all Father's are usually keenly aware of. Then the internal struggle for independence. All of these combined make her very susceptical to gang pressure, and gang involvement.
INDICATORS OF POSSIBLE GANG INVOLVEMENT.
Has your daughter stopped associating with her old friends?The kids that she had grown up around and played with on a regular bases. Has she indicated that the old friends no longer share the same interests, or that she has out grown them. No matter the excuse that is given, this is an area of great concern. You must take a good look at her new friend's, male and female alike. Have you met the new friends, do they come to your house to visit, or does your daughter go to their home, or meet them at a particular hang-out? What is the demeanor of the new friend's? Friendly, out going, extremely polite, well mannered, or very quite, angry, sullen, secretive, stand offish. Contrary to popular belief, some of the most violent gang member's that I have met can appear very polite, well mannered, and extremely likable. Gang member's become very good at fooling parent's, other family member's, school officials and even law enforcement. The best way to identify behaviors are a mixture of going with your gut feeling and by observing their actions when they don't know your watching. Be aware of facial expression, eye movements and the way they carry themselves. This may be your first indicator, as human beings tend to associate with people that have the same goals, cares and concerns. Do the new friends wear gang style clothing and colors? Look for web belts with buckles that may have a gang sign cut in to them. The color of belts, shoes, shoe laces, undershirts, coats, jackets,wrist watch faces, and hats or head gear.
Initially, schools were considered out of bounds for gangs. It was a free zone or a safe haven. Gangs were not active in schools. That has changed, gang violence in schools is on the rise. It has become an area for recruitment, a place to display the gangs power, commit crimes and the sale of drugs. Weapons are brought to schools for intimidation and protection. Many children get caught up in gangs at this stage by fear. These are the questions you need to answer. How are your daughter's grades? Have they continued about the same or have they dropped? What is the reason for the change? Family problems, boyfriend problems, problems adjusting to a new school or school environment, fear of change, fear of gangs, or her involvement in gangs? What comments have teacher's made on her attitude and behavior in school? Has her attitude changed suddenly, acting out towards school officials? What does she attribute the change too? They are out to get her, they don't like her, it's just to difficult? Again, know your daughter, compare prior behavior with her current behavior. Talk with teacher's and school officials, get their input. After all, they are the professionals concerning kid's behavior at school.
One of the identifiers of gangs and gang member's and associates is dress. Not only the color, but also the style. This is important to them for several reasons. It identifies them to their own gang member's. After all they do not want to become victims of violence from their own gang and they do not want to commit an act of violence on one of their own members. The reason this is important to them, gang members are prohibited from victimizing their own gang members and their families. Unless it has been authorized by the command structure of the gang. A violation of this code of conduct can result in anything from a verbal reprimand, sever beating, to death. Secondly, it is a projection of gang influence, and power. After all, if I am driving and see one or two guy's wearing gang colors, I will not be very intimidated, but if I see twenty or thirty of them, I am not going to hang around. Additionally, it has been said by other's, that clothes don't make the man, the man makes the clothes. I see it more as, the clothing represents the image that the man has of himself, or the image he wants other's to see.This ability to identify gang member's and rival gang members can be seen in your local news. If gang members know their target on sight, nothing may be said at all. If they know the target and want their gang to get credit for the hit, they will announce their gang by yelling it out, before,after or during the shooting. If they are out to victimize a rival gang member, but no specific target. They will look to identify them by their dress, gang colors or style of dress. If they can not locate any rival gang member's, but still want to carry out a mission for their gang. They will throw their gang sign at a person on the street that may look like a gang member or that is in a rival gang member's territory. If the person is a member of their gang he will respond with his gang sign and they'll continue on. If the person responds with a rival gangs sign, he will become a victim. Lastly, they may verbally identify their gang affiliation or ask the intended victim, "where you from", "who do you represent", or a question of this type. If the person says no one, or says he represents a rival gang or area, he will be victimized.
What represents gang colors and clothing? It can be any color. CRIPS and BLOODS are represented by Blue and Red respectively. Norteno and Sureno by Red and Blue, Oriental gangs will use, red, blue, yellow and green. Outlaw motor cycle gangs will use red and white, black and white, green and white. You have to investigate, you can contact your local or county law enforcement, schools and local non-profit organization. All of these either have the information, or some sort of community program where this information will be given out as part of a gang awareness program.Style of clothing can be sagging, dragging or bagging. Wearing their pants down around the bottom of their butt, displaying their underwear. Be aware, that skateboarders tend to wear this style also, as do alot of kids emulating their favorite rap artist. Originally, I first noticed the CRIPS gang members wearing their pants in this fashion, then it spread to other gangs and finally to our pop culture. Personally, I like the style. It's really hard to run or jump over fence's with your pants around your ankles, or running with one hand holding up your pants.
What is gang indicia? It is anything that represents, or is used by the gang in any form of fashion to educate, communicate, or identify gang member's, or idea's.This is the area that most parent's ignore. Why you may ask? Privacy issue's, trust issue's or the fear of incurring the wrath of their teenager. Some parent's are afraid of what they will find, so they make excuses for not checking their teens, male or females, room's. A parent is responsible to shelter, feed, cloth, educate, take care of and protect their children. Your teenager, in most cases, is not going to tell you, hey, Mom and Dad, I've decided to become a gang member. As a parent it is your duty and responsibility to check your teens room and belongings in order to protect them, period. I don't know how many times, a victim parent's will swear their son or daughter is not a gang member. Most are lying, but some closed their eye's and refused to see the signs. So what are we looking for and where will it be. First, look at the overall room. color of the walls, posters, drawings or anything hanging or suspended from the walls or celling. Is there anything related to gang color's or gang content. A United Farm workers(UFW) flag, red with a black Aztec eagle(or commonly called the HUELGA BIRD) in the middle? Could be an indicator, test your child, ask them what it is and what it means. The original UFW flag was designed by Caesar Chavez's brother, he couldn't draw the Mexican Eagle, so he decided to square off the wings and use the Aztec eagle. It is too long to describe here, but you can contact the United Farm Workers office near you and they will be happy to send you a flyer describing the flag and what each part stands for. Needless to say, your Northern Hispanic gangs took the design of the UFW's flag and began using it as an identifier. You'll see it displayed as a flag or a tattoo. As we continue checking the room, check clothing pockets for notes or signs of drug use. Check inside books, notebooks, magazine's, drawers, diaries, under bed's, mattresses, dressers and any other place you would hide something. Look for gang notes, usually hand printed in micro writing. Micro writing is seven sentences in one line of regular lined notebook paper. It can be folded into a square, or rolled the size of a toothpick. Read their notes and writings. Have they crossed out any letters? For example, a Norteno will cross out the s' in his writing's or use the dollar symbol if typing. It will look like this, "Hey how are you guy$ doing. What$ cracking, home boy$".Be aware of the content of letters and writings. Also note if suddenly your teen has taken an unusual fascination with MAYA or AZTEC writings or symbols. Don't just look at books, read the covers. If you see a book titled,"The Art of War by Sun-Tsu", it is a training aid used by the Norteno gangs and shows their ideas of fighting and discipline. Also, Norteno gang members have been instructed to study books on human nature and how to read human behavior, and keywords used to manipulate people. Again, majority of my work was with Hispanic gangs, so those are the examples I use. The basics apply to all gangs as they are pretty much the same in the manor and style they operate.Also when your checking their room, look for items' that they should not have. New jewelery, cell phones, or electronics in general. Find out how they got them, where they came from, especially if they don't have the money to buy them. Regarding cell phones, check them often. Who do they call, when are they calling, check out their phone books, how are the names listed and what are the nicknames used. Same with text messages, read them, what are they talking about? Check their computer's, their e-mail, area's they go to on the Internet. As with all of these indicator's, you must have a base line of your daughter's prior behavior to help evaluated her current behavior, is it related to gangs or just a teenage thing. Remember, you will find things that embarrass you and surprise you. Some of these are normal teenage behavior's, taking about sex and boy's and other such topics. Some may not be, talk with your teen about these topics in a general format, don't bring them in put them under a spotlight and interrogate them for hours. They will only learn to hide it better next time.
CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR AND ATTITUDE.
This is a tough one. Teenager's are going thru a period of change in their lives and are having to learn and adapt to the changes in their bodies and environments. They feel they are old enough to make decisions for themselves, they want independence from the rule of their parents. They want to be their own person. How can you tell the difference's between gang influence's and normal behavior? All teens usually do something stupid at one time or another. The key is if the behavior or attitude continue, even after it has had a negative impact. A teen coming home drunk once, or a teen that comes home drunk or hung-over on a regular basis. Coming home late every now and then, or consistently comes home late and eventually, doesn't come home at all. The normal anger and frustration with parents. Yelling, "you don't understand me", running to their room and slamming the door. As opposed to yelling, running out the front door and not coming home for several day's. Any permanent, negative change in your teens behavior or attitude, is an area of concern.
USE OF ALOCHOL,OR DRUGS.
Male gang members tend to use alcohol, drugs and sex as a recruiting tool. They will have parties, bring in teens they are trying to recruit, and introduce them into this representation of the gangster life style. Female's are an important tool that is used to attract new member's. This is the most dangerous time for your daughter. Gang member's will use every trick they know to get your daughter to this party and begin using her as a tool. She may think he likes her, he'll treat her very well, stand up for her and protect her. Eventually, he will convince her to go to the party with him, and to use alcohol or some low key, accepted drug, marijuana. After this initial step, he'll continue to befriend her and increasingly get her to use alcohol and marijuana. He will next, either overtly or covertly, get her to use a drug such as Methamphetamine (Meth). He'll put Meth in her drink without her knowing. When he feels comfortable at this stage he'll begin heavy petting, or even sex with him. Once he feels he has total control of her, he'll make sure she is addicted to the alcohol, drugs or sex. He'll then introduce her to sex at his direction with multiple partner's, usually gang members and new recruits. Once she is addicted, used and abused, and no longer appealing for use as a recruitment tool she will be kicked out to fend for herself. Prostitution, stealing or any other crime to pay for her new addictions. What do parents look for? There will be signs of alcohol and drug use, learn what they are. Marijuana, red bloodshot eye's, giggling, munchies. Meth., will have the signs of twitching or uncontrollable talking, jerky movements, can't stand still or keep one train of thought for any period of time. Is keyed up for extended periods of time, followed by a crash, sleeping for long periods of time or extremely difficult to wake up. When your daughter reaches the age of dating or going out be sure and warn her, about the danger of alcohol,drugs and gangs.She is not to drink anything that she does not open herself, no matter how much she trust's the people she is with. If she leaves her drink unattended, throw it away and get another one. Never, drink out of someone else's drink. Additionally, when you check her room, look for glass pipes, lighter's, empty piece's of plastic wrap, which may or may not have a crystal type residue. Look for straws cut about two inches in length, or coffee stir sticks. Also check your teens hands. Meth when smoked, using a glass pipe usually results in contact burns on the thumb and index finger.
In-conclusion Rember you are the parent.It is your responsibility to protect your child. Gang members have a saying, you may see it as initials, MOB. It stands for Money Over Bitches. That is how they view women, tools to advance their gang agenda. Many of the gang member's I have talked with have no compunction about using women and tend to see them as property and income. They'll tell them they love them, they'll have their children. Once a girl has their child she is viewed as theirs. They will have her raising the kids and working two jobs to support him, while he parties with gang friends and has sex with whom every he wants. Just to give you an idea of how brainwashed some of their women are. In a recorded call from jail, a female told her male gang friend that she would have oral sex with any gang member in good standing, that was her obligation and she would swallow, or do anything to help the soldiers in the cause.
The gang life style only leads to two places. DEATH and PRISON.