Whether you realize it or not, your child can be at risk of joining a gang. The reasons kids join gangs are complex and varied. However, as a parent, you have more power than you think in keeping your kids away from gangs and gang activity.
Teaching your children good social skills, honest communication, personal responsibility and the ability to make correct decisions will prove invaluable as they grow and mature into adulthood. While five-year-olds may not fully understand the consequences of joining a gang, they can learn how to say NO to negative behavior. Try to point out violent messages on television and in movies. Tell them violence is not a solution to their problem. Talk to your children about ways they can solve problems without fighting or violence.
And finally, involve your kids in recreational activities they enjoy. Help them to pursue their talent in sports, hobbies and the arts. Keeping your child occupied and learning will go a long way in helping them stay busy and out of trouble. The time to begin is now, whether your child is five, ten or fifteen years old.
Know the Warning Signs
Clothing is one of the most common ways to identify gang membership. Bandanas of certain colors worn hanging out of pockets or off the waistband are common gang affiliations. Belts have begun to take the place of bandanas locally, and are usually worn hanging long down either leg (to the knee or below). Gang members have certain brands of clothing they prefer, and pants are almost always worn well below the waistline. Shirts are often buttoned to the top; sometimes only the top button will be used. Look for sports clothing with letters, names, numbers or symbols added. Old-English-style letters, words or phrasing is also popular. Shoes are commonly black with white stripes or vice versa.
Tattoos are frequently used as a gang identifiers, and are typically located on the face, hands, neck, stomach, arms, and back. The most common gang-tattoos are three dots, initials, happy-sad faces, numbers, and Old-English style lettering.
Ogden Metro Gang Unit
The Ogden Metro Gang Unit began in 1992 and works closely with officers and detectives from surrounding agencies within Weber County to identify, investigate, and reduce the various gang activities within the county. The Gang Unit’s metro concept has made great strides in combating the youth gang problem. Overall, gang-related crimes are on the decline.
The Gang Unit employs a three-pronged approach in combating gang activity...investigation, suppression, and prevention. Additionally, a close partnership with Juvenile Probation, School Resource Officers, and Community Action groups has proven beneficial in being able to solve gang-related crimes quickly and providing support to families who may be struggling with children involved in gangs.
A major effort of the Gang Unit has been stopping gang intimidation and removing as many weapons as possible from the streets. Gang detectives aggressively pursue each case and use a variety of investigative techniques. Both Ogden City and Weber County continue to keep youth gang violence an important public issue by continuing to promote public awareness and by engaging the community in addressing the root cause of why our youth may be motivated to join a gang.