Gang Involvement Warning Signs: Things Parents Should Watch For

Gang Involvement Warning Signs: Things Parents Should Watch For

Many parents fear their child or children may start hanging out with the wrong kind of people. In some cases, the “wrong kind of people” may be an organized gang. As a parent, there are things you can watch for to know if your child is involved with a gang.

Be on the lookout for the following signs that your child may be involved in a gang:

  • Abrupt changes in your child’s selection of friends could be a sign that they are in a gang
  • Changing pattern in the way they dress, such as wearing the same color combination of clothes all the time
  • Gang symbols on books, folders, clothing, computers, or other personal equipment
  • Secretiveness about activities may suggest they are hiding something
  • Possessing unexplained, relatively large sums of money or other items
  • Sudden changes in behavior, including a diminishing interest in the family and school
  • Staying away from the house or staying out late without good reason
  • Problems with school officials or other authority figures (coaches, trainers, tutors, etc.)
  • Problems with the police. These issues usually start out as minor infractions, such as traffic violations or misdemeanor arrests. If the trend continues, the arrest often escalate to felony charges.

If you notice these patterns of gang involvement, get help. Contact the school counselor or the gang crimes unit of your local police department. They may be able to help you find counseling and tell you how to help your child get out of the gang.

In addition, it may be helpful to educate yourself by reading books and website that provide more information on the subject. Following are some suggested resources:

One of the most comprehensive websites on gangs, gang-related news, discussion forums, and more is It serves as a helpful reference for identifying members. Also, check out for books, articles and videos.

If you’d like to read more, check out our collection of Gang Investigation Books in our private eye bookstore.


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