About 1.4 million gang members live across the United States, according to the FBI's 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment. They belonged to about 33,000 gangs, some of which consisted of teenagers. Children who are gang members face several dangers, including substance abuse, sexual abuse, imprisonment, severe injury and death. You can use several strategies to prevent your child from becoming a gang member and exposing himself to these risks.
1. Encourage Positive Activities
Involve your kids in positive activities, including music programs, drama or sports, so they do not have the time for gang activities. You could also encourage him to enroll for and participate in volunteer programs after school or during the weekends. Such activities will help your son to fit into a productive and healthy environment, which enable him develop various skills. Praise him for any achievement and motivate him to make the most of his skills.
2. Foster Constant Communication
Communication between you and your child enlightens you on any issues bothering him that might cause him to join a gang. Pay attention to him, which could give you information that your son is contemplating becoming a gang member. According to Online Parenting Coach, an online website that advises parents of kids with disciplinary problems, lack of attention from parents can influence gang involvement. While fostering constant communication, educate him about the dangers of gang involvement and tell him that he can attain a good life through legitimate ways such as arts, sports and careers.
3. Assess Friends
Guide your child away from friends who you believe will influence him to join a gang. According to the U.S., Department of Justice, teenagers are likely to become gang members because of their friends. Your daughter could join a gang in which her boyfriend is a member. In assessing your child’s friend, you should meet his friends and their families in addition to obtaining the contacts of these friends’ parents. These contacts could help you find your son when you are unaware of his whereabouts.
4. Monitoring Him Frequently
Preventing your son from becoming a gang member could require you to keep tabs on the places he goes and what he does when he is away from home. Before he leaves the house, ask him where he will be with his friends and ask him to be back home by a certain time. Check up on him occasionally to see what he's doing. The knowledge that you are monitoring his movements will make it hard for him to engage in gang activities.
- Federal Bureau of Investigations: 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment
- The City of Salem Police Department: How Can We Prevent Children from Joining Gangs
- Online Parenting Coach: Keeping Your Teen Away from Gangs
- U.S. Department of Justice: Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs
- Newark Unified School District: Gang Prevention through Parental Involvement
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