Gang Awareness

  • Organized gangs are active throughout the Sacramento region including some areas of San Juan Unified. The following information is taken from a Safe Schools presentation made by Sacramento Sheriff Department officials. 
      

    Gang members in Sacramento

    As of 2008, there were 226 validated gangs in the region with 6,000 to 8,000 members. This figure includes hate groups and other organized groups that exhibit traditional gang activity. 
     

    Why individuals join gangs

    • Fun and excitement
    • Identity and sense of belonging
    • Peer pressure
    • Financial gain/drugs
    • Protection
    • A family tradition
    • A failure to understand what being in a gang means
    Who joins gangs?
    • Recruits generally range in age from 12 to 24 years 
    • Most members are boys, but 10 percent of all gang members are girls
    • All ethnic groups and income levels are represented, and gangs are found in all parts of the country
    • Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of gang involvement
    Associated risk factors
    • Living in an area with a high level of gang activity, drug/alcohol use; available firearms.
    • Lack of a positive support system at home
    • Violence against family members
    • Exposure to TV shows, movies, and/or music that glorifies violence
    • Low self-esteem and/or a sense of hopelessness about the future
    • Lack of alternative activities, such as community youth programs
    • Lack of positive role models
    • Poor decision-making and communication skills
    • Too much unsupervised free time
    • Poor school achievement
    • Problematic child-parent relationship
    • Lack of respect for authority (parents, teachers, law enforcement officers)
    • Family members who are or were gang members

    Levels of gang involvement

    LEVEL 1: FANTASY

    • Knows about gangs primarily from media
    • May know gang members, but not associating yet
    • May respect or admire the gang lifestyle
    • Sees gang members “living out a fantasy”

    LEVEL 2: AT RISK

    • Has personal knowledge of gangs
    • Casually and occasionally associates with members
    • Likes or admires the gang lifestyle, but does not fully participate

    LEVEL 3: ASSOCIATE

    • Personally knows and admires gang members
    • Regularly associates with members
    • Finds activity normal, acceptable, admirable
    • Finds many things in common with member
    • Is mentally prepared to join the gang

    LEVEL 4: MEMBER

    • Associates almost exclusively with members
    • Participates in gang crimes/other related gang activities
    • Has substantially rejected authority or value system of family, friends, and society

    LEVEL 5: HARD-CORE

    • Totally committed to gang and its lifestyle
    • Totally rejects anyone, or any value system other than that of the gang
    • Will commit acts upon approval or demand
    • Have goals of gang foremost in their minds

    Tips

    What parents can do:

    • Be a positive role model
    • Do everything possible to involve your children in supervised, positive group activities
    • Praise your children for doing well and encourage them to do their very best
    • Get to know your children’s friends and their parents
    • Set limits for your children, and enforce them
    • Do not allow your children to dress in gang-style clothing, to practice gang hand signs, or to write gang graffiti on any surface, including their bodies
    • Know where your children are at all times, and schedule activities to occupy their free time
    • Get involved in your children’s education, and encourage them to stay in school.  Be active in the PTA
    • Teach your children to set positive goals, to hold high standards, and to prepare for a positive future
    • Explain to your children that only a very small percentage of youth join gangs
    • Help your children to understand the natural consequences of being involved in a gang
    • The more connected a child is with family, school, community, and positive activities, the less likely he or she will be attracted to gangs
    • Explain to your children that only a very small percentage of youth join gangs
    • Help your children to understand the natural consequences of being involved in a gang
    • The more connected a child is with family, school, community, and positive activities, the less likely he or she will be attracted to gangs

    What schools can do:

    • Identify at-risk students and students who are already gang members.  Encourage them to participate in sports, drama, music, art, and other positive activities that will increase their confidence and sense of belonging
    • Don’t allow anyone to wear gang clothing, paraphernalia, or other items associated with gang activity at school; don’t permit gang hand signals
    • Photograph and remove all graffiti from the school grounds and property
    • Promote after school programs that address the prevention of violence
    • Work with parents, counselors, School Resource Officers, and school personnel to determine when intervention is necessary and what steps should be taken
    • Ensure that gang and drug prevention are part of the curricula, and present gang and drug awareness programs to parents

    What neighbors can do:

    • Get to know your neighbors and their children
    • Communicate
    • Maintain a standard for your neighborhood’s appearance that tells gangs that they are not welcome
    • Work with your local law enforcement agency to develop a community strategy against gangs
    Getting Out of a Gang

    • Speak to a counselor, police officer, clergy, or other professionals about ways youth can create distance between themselves and the gang
    • Relocate
    • Get information about tattoo removal programs


Last Modified on May 2, 2014