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Gangs

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What is a gang? It is often described as a group of three or more individuals with a common interest, bond, or activity characterized by criminal or delinquent conduct. Gangs usually have a group name or designation. For your convenience and family safety, we've listed some of the indicators, when taken as a whole, of possible gang involvement. Please read the informational brochure, "Gangs - A Safe City" (PDF) for basic awareness and strategies for parents concerned with gangs.

GANG HOTLINE NUMBER - (303) 774-4411

Longmont Times-Call Article from May 7, 2006: Longmont Gangs: A Closer Look (PDF)

Defiant Behavior/Tough Image

Gang involved youth are extremely defiant of authority figures and believe that a very tough, mean, or aggressive image is very important. Children that are becoming gang members will begin to act very tough, often using curse words and using a defiant posture whenever confronted.

New Friends/Change in Dress

The child may begin to associate with a new group of friends; and, if these friends all dress in similar styles or colors, parents and teachers should begin to question why. If the new group of friends are gang members, the chances for the child to be involved go up significantly. Parents should not allow their child to associate with this group.

Use of a Nickname/Loss of Self Identity

In the world of gangs, you are not a true member until you have earned a nickname. Most times, youth do not know the real names of members, just their street names or nicknames. Life also tends to become very difficult for involved youth without their fellow gang members. They tend to forget what things were like before joining the gang.

Money

Some youth get involved with gangs to make money illegally. Crimes may include armed robbery, selling drugs, being a look-out for drug dealers, auto theft/burglary, etc. Parents should be concerned over unexplained money or material goods such as jewelry, radios, televisions, computer games, etc.

Tattoos/Graffiti

Gang members use tattoos and graffiti to demonstrate what gang they belong to. Younger members may use a pen or magic marker to draw the gang's name, their nickname, or other gang slogans on themselves. Older individuals may "carve" or "brand" gang related symbols or words into their skin. Symbols and words may also be written on building walls, notebooks, backpacks, clothing, furniture, and other personal possessions.

Grades Drop

Generally speaking, gang members do not like succeeding in school. They see those who do well in school as "nerds," a "school-boy," or "school-girl," all of which are considered derogatory terms. In addition, because of late night activities or drug use, students may not be able to concentrate on academics.

"But What Can I Do?"

As a parent, try focusing on these areas...

  • Communicate - Talk with and listen to your child. Listen and value what they have to say.
  • Attention - Have genuine interest in the things that are important to him/her. Praise them for doing well and encourage them to do their very best. Bolster their self-esteem.
  • Love - Let your children know that they are cared for. Many children seek out gangs to fulfill the need for love and family support.
  • Discipline/Supervision - Discipline and structure in the household will allow your child to develop self-limits. Children are more apt to become involved in gangs when they are left alone.
  • Awareness/Education - Know what your children are doing and with whom. Know about their friends and their friends' families. Take an active interest in your child's education.

As a resident …

  • Develop positive alternatives - Are there after-school and weekend activities kids can enjoy? Can the school offer its facilities?
  • Work with police and other agencies - Report all suspicious activity; set up a Neighborhood Watch or a community patrol.

For further information, contact these local agencies for information.

Graffiti Reporting and Removal (GEAR) (303) 774-GEAR
Community Neighborhood Resources, City of Longmont (303) 651-8444
Longmont Public Safety, Gang and Crime Suppression Unit (303)651-8851
Longmont Children and Youth Services, City of Longmont (303) 651-8580
El Comité (303) 651-6125

 

 

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