Not MY Child. . .
by James Hamilton, Student Resource Officer, Greenville Police Department

Many parents frequently ask how to identify if their children are associating with a gang or are currently a gang member.

The best way to find these things out is to talk to your child and play an active role in their life. Children who know that their parents care about them and that their parents are active in their life are less likely to join a gang and will feel comfortable talking to their parents about new friends and what they are engaging in.

There are always some children that still decide to join a gang due to the glamorized life style they see portrayed in music and film.

The following is a list of what most experts from various fields have put together to help parents know if their child is showing indicators of gang involvement.

  • Admits to “hanging out” with kids in gangs
  • Shows an unusual interest in one or two particular colors of clothing or a particular logo
  • Has an unusual interest in gangster-influenced music, videos, movies, or websites
  • Uses unusual hand signals to communicate with friends
  • Has specific drawings or gang symbols on school books, clothes, walls, or tattoos
  • Comes home with unexplained physical injuries (fighting-related bruises, injuries to hand/knuckles)
  • Has unexplained cash or goods, such as clothing or jewelry
  • Carries a weapon
  • Has been in trouble with the police
  • Exhibits negative changes in behavior such as:
    • Withdrawing from family
    • Declining school attendance, performance, behavior
    • Staying out late without reason
    • Displaying an unusual desire for secrecy
    • Exhibiting signs of drug use
    • Breaking rules consistently
    • Speaking in gangstyle slang

James Hamilton is Student Resource Officer, Greenville Police Department