Drug testing

Joining a Gang: How to Help Kids Prevent it, How to Tell if Theyve Joined One, How to Help Them Out

While youth gangs are nothing new -- they've been traced back to the early 19th century -- the demographic of a youth gang is something that is constantly changing. Many people stereotype gang members as urban, inner city males from racial minorities, but in fact gangs are a problem in suburbs as well as cities, for all races and for girls as well as boys.

There are about 750,000 gang members in the United States, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Justice, and one-third of them are under the age of 18. And while it's still true that men account for the majority of gang members-more than 90 percent are male-gang membership among women is becoming increasingly common.

What Exactly is a Gang?

Every gang has its own requirements and characteristics, but the U.S. Department of Justice says that all gangs have one thing in common: "A group must be involved in a pattern of criminal acts to be considered a youth gang."

Similarly, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines a gang as, "A criminal enterprise having an organizational structure, acting as a continuing criminal conspiracy, which employs violence and any other criminal activity to sustain the enterprise."

Additionally, gangs typically:

* Develop around racial and ethnic lines

* Are typically male-dominated with some female members, though female gangs are on the increase

* Center on a specific territory

* Act as an organization that may be part of a larger group

* Display symbols associated with their gang through clothing, tattoos, graffiti, hand signals and language

Why do Kids Join Gangs?

According to a White House fact sheet for the new youth initiative aimed at protecting America's youth from gangs, an overwhelming number of violent U.S. criminals like those in gangs grow up in single-mother households with no father around. It's also been shown that kids who are involved with their family, school and community are less likely to be involved in risky behavior like joining a gang.

This may explain why, generally, kids join gangs to feel like they belong and have a sense of purpose. In fact, kids join gangs for many of the same reasons that kids join any group, like a soccer team or Boy Scouts:

* Looking for a sense of self-worth, belonging and commitment

* Seeking structure and discipline

* Companionship

* A need for recognition, higher status and acceptance

* Excitement and something to do

Gang Signs

Additionally, kids may join gangs because of a:

* Need for protection

* Family tradition

* Need for money (kids in gangs can earn cash from drug trades)

How to Keep Your Kids Away From Gangs

Since most kids who join gangs do so because they are looking for a social network, for a group to belong to, ensuring that your child gets plenty of love and support at home and through positive activities is key in keeping them away from gangs.

Such was the case with David Danisa, a young man who could have easily fallen prey to gangs himself as friends around him joined steadily. Instead, Danisa and friend Jurell Spivey joined school programs and even got involved into keeping younger kids out of gangs.

"There's a lot of pressures in high school," says Danisa. "If you have people who are helping you out in programs, you start having more self-respect. You can fight through the hard stuff." And, to put is simply, after your day gets filled up with sports, volunteering and other activities, "You don't have time to do anything bad," Danisa said.

Aside from enrolling your kids in community or school youth programs from an early age, the following tips can also help:

* Encourage your child to think independently

* Take an active interest in his/her life: Be involved!

* Get to know your child's friends and encourage healthy friendships

* Teach your child coping strategies to deal with hard times

* Support your child with words and actions to instill in them a sense of self-esteem and personal responsibility

* Discourage too much exposure to media influences that glorify drugs, sex, gangs and violence to kids

Resources That Can Help

If you suspect your child, friend or family member is in a gang and in need of help, there are many resources available. First, according to the Los Angeles' County Sheriff's Department:

* The member must think and believe that they can get out of the gang, and must want to do it.

* Reduce the amount of time spent with the gang. It's best to do so gradually, rather than trying to sever all ties immediately.

* Replace gang activities with positive activities like sports, the arts, employment, religion, education, volunteering, etc.

* Remove gang tattoos and attire and modify language away from gang communications.

* Create a new set of friends and an alternative support system, such as boys and girls clubs.

* Help other youths in gangs to create a better life away from the gang.

Other helpful resources include:

* National Clearinghouse for Families & Youth

* Family and Youth Services Bureau

* The YMCA

* Your local youth community center

From the FREE SixWise.com e-newsletter, the Web's #1 most read newsletter with original articles in all 6 areas of life leading to complete wellness.

In The News:

The headquarters flag used by George Washington during the Revolutionary War will go on display in Philadelphia next month, marking its first public appearance in the city since the war itself.
A stunning new study from NASA highlights the impact humans are having on fresh water availability across the globe, mentioning climate change and several other factors.
A man in Cheatham County, Tennessee caught and later killed a 6.5 foot timber rattlesnake that slithered through his backyard.
New research reveals that some black hole collisions may cascade, with the dense objects crashing into one another to create even more-massive black holes.
A new type of camera developed by U.S. researchers will allow astronomers to directly image planets around nearby stars in the search for another Earth.
Octopuses are weird. This is not just because they look odd. It’s not because they’re disturbingly smart. It’s because they have a strange power.
The discovery of clay tablets in Iraqi Kurdistan has helped archaeologists unlock the mystery of an ancient lost city.
In space, they say, no one can hear you sneeze. But Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt was doing a lot of that inside the Challenger command module when he visited the moon in 1972.
Elon Musk’s wants to use the biggest rocket SpaceX has ever built to ferry humans around the globe, promising passengers the ability to get anywhere on Earth in under an hour.
Earth-like planets with severe tilts and orbits could enter abrupt "snowball states," in which entire oceans freeze and surface life cannot survive, according to new research.

Promoting Your Childs Heart Health

Cardiovascular endurance is one of the five health-related components of... Read More

Strategies to Help Boost Your Childs Self Esteem

Self esteem in an important quality for all children to... Read More

Saving Money on Preschool: Readiness Skills Needed for Kindergarten

As a mom of 4 who's youngest child is about... Read More

Best Tips for Stress Free Child Party Games

When planning a child birthday party, just a little bit... Read More

God Dont Like Rich People

I will never forget the day that my daughter's sixth... Read More

Top Three Ways To Communicate With Your Child

Although many parents become frustrated as they try to maintain... Read More

Raising a Self-Sufficient Teen

Teens don't learn responsibility overnight. If you haven't been working... Read More

How To Teach Your Children Self-Reliance and Potential

Self-reliance and potential are two very important values that I'd... Read More

Best Investment

Every week I write something about the stock market -... Read More

Parents --- Homeschooling Can Take a Lot Less Time Than You Think

The time you will need to teach your children the... Read More

Super Nanny - A Users Guide to Watching Super Nanny

There are many things to like about the television show... Read More

Teaching Preschool Color and Shapes with Family Games

My kids just can't get enough of playing games with... Read More

Playing Safe

Do you really want your child to enjoy playing with... Read More

Overscheduled Kids

Time devoted the better part of an issue to it.... Read More

Teach Your Children How To Resolve Conflict Without Using Anger Or Power

Teaching kids to deal with conflict effectively and peacefully is... Read More

Why Me?

Why Me?"We should certainly count our blessings, but we should... Read More

Surprise ? Public School Class Size Doesnt Matter Very Much

School authorities often complain that classes are too large. They... Read More

Lets Not Hurry Children Through Childhood

Have you ever experienced one of those days when you... Read More

Misplaced Passion

"Before every action, ask yourself: Will this bring more monkeys... Read More

Mothers Day Tribute

As Mother's Day approaches I would like to give a... Read More

Parenting Your Teenager: Of Course You Can Search Your Teens Room

Q. We recently caught our son smoking pot, and we... Read More

Don?t Make Fast and Furious Food Changes

OK, moms and dads out there, we hear you when... Read More

Bath Time Fun

Bath time can be fun or it can be a... Read More

Choosing the Perfect Jogging Stroller

When choosing the perfect jogging stroller, a very important question... Read More

Public-school Teachers Know Best --- They Send Their Kids To Private Schools

A study done by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found... Read More

led manufacturing companies led commercial lighting fixtures Pete's produce ..