Effective parental influence is a key to gang prevention. It is important for parents to trust their own instincts. If you feel something is wrong with your child, it probably is. This instinct can be an early warning signal to work on prevention.
Parents not only influence their own child’s choice to join a gang, but they can successfully change attitudes in the community by working together with other parents. Most important, they can create a community-wide attitude that rejects gang-related behaviour.
Many parents have developed effective ways to keep their family unit strong and help their children resist the allure of gang membership. The following steps can help prevent gang involvement:
- talk with your children about alcohol, drugs and gangs – they need accurate, factual information
- be involved with your children in healthy, creative activities, such as hobbies, sports, school and community events
- arrange for activities for after school hours; children regularly left alone are often bored and with a lack of supervision have a greater tendency to become involved in gangs, or other negative activities
- have a tolerance for mistakes or failure, and be supportive; use positive re-enforcement, rather than punishment when possible
- know where your children are, what they are doing, and who their friends are; consider setting and enforcing a reasonable curfew
- communicate regularly with parents of your children’s friends
- listen to what your children say and what their concerns are; good communication will give them the confidence to talk to you about anything
- encourage your children to get involved in community building projects; when they help build up a community, they are less likely to damage or deface it
- set clear limits that define what is safe and acceptable and what is not; discipline should always be consistent and fair, and it is important to set a good example
- learn about gang and drug activity in your community, including finding out how gang members dress and speak, their behaviour and activities
For more information about the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit’s (CFSEU) call to action to end gang life, please visit CFSEU.