Gang Involvement Warning Signs: Things Parents Should Watch For

gang warning signs

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, cult or organization that is involved in criminal activity and/or drug use. As a parent, it is important to be involved in the lives of your children and constantly keep an eye on their circle of friends.

List of Warning Signs

There are a number of 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, cult or other type of criminal organization:

  • If you notice abrupt changes in your child’s selection of friends could be a sign that they are in a gang
  • Look for changing patterns in the way they dress, such as wearing the same color combination of clothes all the time. This could represent that they are following a prescribed dress code.
  • Notice any gang symbols on books, folders, clothing, computers, or other personal equipment
  • Pay attention to any secretiveness about activities and plans which may suggest they are hiding something
  • Possessing unexplained, relatively large sums of money or other items that may have been stolen
  • Keep an eye out for any 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.

Actions You Can Take

If you notice these patterns of gang involvement, get help immediately. Start out by contacting the counselor at your child’s school. Then reach out tot eh 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.

Talk to other parents or neighbors to see if they have similar concerns. These types of discussions may lead to the pooling of resources and may help you learn of support groups or other types of organization that offer help in your area.

In addition, it may be helpful to educate yourself by reading books and read website articles 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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