The first and most important step is to become aware of gangs, gang members, and their activities. Individuals armed with this basic knowledge are better able to avoid becoming victims of a gang attack.
Prevention is the key to controlling gang activity. Gangs attempt to instill fear. They intimidate rivals and citizens alike. The gang’s power grows through the use of fear and intimidation. They can be countered by citizen action groups such as the Neighborhood Watch. A neighborhood that is united and dedicated in a spirit of cooperation toward stopping crime and violence will greatly hamper gang efforts to flourish. Everyone has the responsibility to overcome apathy and fear. We must work toward a solution to the gang problem.
Parents and educators who suspect gang activity should:
- Talk to the child or teenager and discuss the consequences of being in a gang
- Talk to school officials and counselors inquiring if they are aware of campus problems and if there are any school programs that might help
- Contact government agencies such as your local law enforcement agency or juvenile authority. They may have a crime prevention or gang specialist who can give you valuable guidance. The Los Angeles Police Department has a number of programs which may be of assistance to families dealing with gang affiliated youths
- Seek advice from religious leaders. They may know of programs that help neighborhood children stay out of gangs
- Report and immediately remove any graffiti in your neighborhood or local school grounds. The longer it remains, the more it attracts gang members
- Take action – this is the most important step you can take as an individual, a group or an organization. Do not ignore the signs of gang activity.
When gang related incidents occur, cooperate with authorities. Your help and cooperation may prevent others from becoming victims of gang violence. NON-EMERGENCY information concerning gang crimes, wanted suspects, or any gang activity should be referred to their local police stations . For EMERGENCIES only, call 9-1-1.
Contact your local law enforcement agency for up-to-date information. The Los Angeles Police Department has a number of highly trained gang prevention and enforcement specialists that can help your family or neighborhood fight gang activity. Its crime prevention or gang specialists can help your neighborhood plan ways to fight gang activity. They can help you organize:
- A Neighborhood Watch Program in your neighborhood
- A graffiti abatement or clean-up program
- An intervention program for a young person at risk or involved in gang activity
Other alternatives to gang involvement include locations where organized and supervised programs are offered. The following suggestions may provide a starting point for concerned parents: