Recognizing gang activity in your child's behavior

A youth gang is a group of people who get together on a regular basis to carry out violent, illegal or anti-social activities, including intimidation, assault, vandalism, burglary and even murder. Gang members generally tend to be male teenagers, but they can also be female and even as young as 7 years old.

If you think your child's school or social group is immune from gang activity, think again. The Broward Sheriff's Office has observed evidence of gangs in every social, academic and ethnic category.

Look for these signs that may indicate a child may be involved with a gang:

  • The child begins hanging out with a new group of friends.
  • There's a marked change in the child's habits or personality.
  • You find evidence of or suspect drug or alcohol abuse.
  • The child frequently shows signs of being bruised or injured.
  • You observe the child using unusual hand signs, nicknames or street language.
  • The child is carrying guns, knives or other weapons.
  • You observe strange symbols or graffiti on notebooks and folders.
  • The child withdraws from family members or friends.
  • Grades fall and/or incidents requiring discipline become more frequent.
  • The child obtains money without your knowledge.
  • The child dresses in the same color clothing every day or wears tattoos, unusual jewelry, hairstyles, or clothing that could identify a particular gang.

If you suspect gang involvement, contact your school's resource officer, the school's administration or speak with a BSO deputy at (954) 321-4100.

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