What Parents Can Do

What parents can do to deter gangs.

Being faced with violence and intimidation of gangs can be overwhelming, but as an aware parent your are well positioned to help deter gangs.

  • Consider sharpening your skills as a parent by taking a parenting course or sharing ideas with others, and use those ideas to prevent your child from joining a gang.

  • Learn about gangs and signs of gang activity. Report any gang activity that you are aware of, including graffiti, to police or school authorities. Use Crime Stoppers if you'd rather remain anonymous.

  • Join with others to make or keep your neighborhood gang-free. Develop positive alternatives. Are there after-school and weekend activities kids can enjoy? Is there a youth drop-in center with structured activities?

  • Share information and speak with other parents.

Ways to Sharpen Your Parenting Skills

The following are some parenting skills that are especially effective in preventing children from being attracted to gangs for support, caring and a sense of order and purpose - all the things that parents are trying to give their kids:

  • Place a high value on education and help your children to do their best in school.

  • Encourage them to attend school regularly.

  • Do everything possible to prevent them from dropping out of school.

  • Help your kids identify positive role models and heroes.

  • Do everything possible to involve your children in supervised, positive group activities.

  • Praise them for doing well and encourage them to do their very best.

  • Know what your children are doing and who they are with.

  • Know about their friends and their friends' families.

Additionally, talk to your children about gangs. Tell them that you:

  1. Disapprove of gangs,

  2. Don't want to see them hurt or arrested,

  3. See them as special and worth protecting,

  4. Want to help with problems,

  5. Are working with other parents against gangs and gang activity.

What to do if your child is already involved in a gang.

  • If you see evidence of gang involvement, don't ignore it. Gangs are not simply a phase that your child will grow out of.

  • Learn everything you can about the signs of gang behavior by reading about gangs and talking to other parents, police, teachers, counselors etc.

  • Don't be afraid to seek outside intervention or help. Seeking help is not an admission of guilt or fault, and it may work to support your children.

  • Look for parenting ideas. Parenting is a learned skill and many parents enroll in parenting programs to acquire those skills. Parenting programs provide opportunities to learn from others.

  • Don't be a passive parent - Act. By getting involved with your children when problems are small, you can lead them into more positive lifestyles choices.

. Where to go for help

  • For immediate information about gangs, call your local police department and ask for your local police station's Street Crime or Youth Violence unit.

  • To report gang activity anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at 215-STOP(7867).

  • For information about children's issues, contact Youth Clinical services in your community, or call your child's school

Source:  Toronto Police Department