General Information

The vast majority of young people are not involved in gangs and want nothing to do with them. However, the behaviour of the small number of young people who are involved has a significant impact on communities, on their families and associates, as well as themselves. 



  • They feel a need for protection, security or safety.
  • For power, money, sex, respect and status.
  • For a sense of identity and to feel part of a family.
  • To feel accepted by others.
  • Gangs are common in their area.
  • Fear of intimidation.
  • They feel peer pressure to join a gang.
  • Lack of family, cultural or institutional support.
  • They do not have positive role models to help and guide them.
  • Boredom as there is nothing else to do.
  • It seems attractive and youth think it is cool.


Grooming and initiation is the term used to describe the process children as young as 10 years old go through without their knowledge but are intimidated by older gang members who hang around shops and playgrounds preying on vulnerable youngsters. They will approach them offering protection, security and safety from other gang members. Initiation is the term used once a young person has earned their position within the gang by committing acts of criminitality. The violent the crime the higher their position will be.


As you are aware youth gangs are increasing rapidly and gang activities are taking place in your local community. As a parent you need to be aware and feel confident of what to look out for with your own child. Have you ever questioned and second guessed yourself the friends your child keeps company with? Or how they spend their free time? If you answered YES then take a look at the following questions:

  • Does your child look or act like a gang member? Hand signs, graffiti (e.g., on notebooks, bookbags or clothing), temporary or permanent tattoos, specific clothing styles, and wearing specific colours, bandanas and hats are some common symbols of gang loyalty.
  • Does your child hang out with peers that you don’t feel good about?
  • Is your child uninterested in school and school activities? Has school performance slipped?
  • Does your child have unexplained cash or expensive jewellery, clothing, stereo or video equipment?
  • Does your child miss his/her curfew for no good reason?

ADDITIONIAL WARNING SIGNS: Below is a list of actions and appearances to help you identify possible gang involvement in your child. It is your responsible to be vigilant and question your child. You should be concerned if your child presents the following:

  • Admits to gang involvement.
  • Is obsessed with one particular colour of clothing or shows a desire for a particular logo.
  • Wears excessive jewellery with distinctive designs and may wear it only on either the right or left side of the body.
  • Is obsessed with gangster-influenced music, videos and movies to the point of imitation.
  • Withdraws from family with an accompanying change in demeanour;
  • Associates with undesirables and breaks parental rules consistently.
  • Develops an unusual desire for privacy and secrecy and may completely rearrange living quarters to create more privacy.
  • Uses hand signs while with friends and practices them at home;
  • Physical injury (such as being beaten) and then child lies about the events surrounding the injury;
  • Peculiar drawings or language on school books (may appear later as tattoos or brands);
  • Possible use of alcohol and drugs with attitude change.
  • Changing friends.
  • Has been getting arrested.
  • Seen a weapon in the house or seen your child with a weapon.

Please be mindful not all young people displaying these warning signs are gang members, therefore it is important to review the facts and other factors involved.