Definition of a “Criminal Street Gang”
A "Criminal Street Gang" is a group of 3 or more organized individuals who have formed an organization, association, or group that is involved in criminal acts. The members form a bound of unity, loyalty, and love for each other, developing a mentality – the gang is my family. They are quick to retaliate with violence once a member has been disrespected and injured by anyone outside the gang. They have no respect or regard for authority or law enforcement. They also are antisocial to non-members and identify themselves by dress codes, hand signs, nicknames, tattoos, symbols, and neighborhoods. Most "Criminal Street Gangs" are identified as “cliques”, “sets”, “crews”, and “posses”.
Types of "Criminal Street Gangs"
Types of "Criminal Street Gangs"
•Home Grown Gangs/Cliques/Crews
•White Hate Gangs
Different Types of Gang Nations
· BLOODS - Pirus, Brims, Pueblos, Swans, and Bishops
· CRIPS - Neighbor Hood, Rollin' 100, Trays/Gangster Crips, Deuces, CC Riders, Crip Gang, Coasts, and Blocc Crips
· FOLKS - Black Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Gangster Disciples, La Raza, Cobras, Latin Disciples, Spanish Gangsters, Eagles, and Two Sixers
· PEOPLES - Black P Stones, Vice Lords, Latin Kings, El Rukns, Gaylords, Bishops, Spanish Lords, Latin Counts, and Kents
· La Gran Familia – Brownside Locos, Malditos 13, Latin Kings, La Raza, and Pachucos
· Aryan Brotherhood
· Nazi Low riders
· Hell’s Angels
Recruitment Age of “Criminal Street Gangs”
The primary age that street gangs start recruiting is 11-15 years old. The reason being is most youth are acting out and they are emotionally vulnerable. There are also juvenile cases where recruits were as young as 8 years old.
Reasons for Joining “Street Gangs”
Most youth that join street gangs know the gang members and have established some form of communication, because they respect and admire them. Which in turn would make them seek the same respect or reputation? They may find the gang lifestyle exciting and dangerous. They are also most likely to come from an abusive home or one where the parents don’t spend any quality time with them. They also will have a lack of interest in school, sports, or anything considered boring. There is also the possibility of family members and friends that are involved with or in a street gang. One thing the street gang does is making its members feel they’re part of something good and it also gives them a sense of power. Another thing the gang does is provide them physical protection from rival gang members. These are serious things that need to be taken into consideration when researching and assessing this problem. Based on my personal experiences and the research I've done talking to my friends growing up and the men I did time with in prison, I learned we all had something in common. We all had suffered from at least on traumatic experience. A traumatic experience is a painful psychological or physical injury one receives from shocking incident in their life. In most cases, these issues are never resolved or addressed, which cause the victims to be hurt, have resentment, be angry, or be rebellious.
Early Warning Signs of “Street Gang” Involvement
The most common early warning sign that a youth/teenager is possibly involved in gang activities, is a sudden change in behavior and activities that they’re into away from home. There isn’t just one indication that a young person is involved with gang activity, unless they have a certified gang tattoo. Here is a list of indicators, to serve as a red flag, after careful observation. You may consider getting professional assistance for your child.
1 A drop in grades and lack of interest in school
2 New friends who you’re uncomfortable with that they have loyalty for
3 Exclusive, defensive, and secretive about hanging out with friends
4 Disassociation with family members
5 Lack of interest in their normal activities
6 New interest in “ Gangsta” rap music (not Hip-Hop)
7 Changes in vocabulary and frequent use of gang-slang
8 Changes in appearance wearing gang-style clothing, jewelry, and tattoos
9 Flashing of hand signs to friends or even when their alone
10 Changing a nickname to something acceptable by a gang
11 Gang graffiti or symbols on his/her property
12 Unable to account for time spent away from home
13 Out of control behavior: curfew, defiant, and running away
14 Unexplained increase in his/her personal monetary income
15 Possession of drugs or other controlled substances
16 Possession of commercial or “homemade” weapons
17 Visible alcohol or drug abuse
18 Unexplained threats/messages from unknown callers
Stages of “Street Gang” Membership
This is just a guide to give some insight on the stages of a gang’s development. It is a way to monitor the seriousness of a person or gang. Nothings 100% guaranteed, but from my personal experience (Arthur) this information should be used as a tool to assess gang’s activities.
1 Mimicking, experimenting with gang images
2 Focus on unity: bounding, friendship
3 Free to cease activities without repercussions (gang laws not established)
4 Focus on gang identity
5 Occasional property crime, tagging
7 No active enemies (however, may have been assaulted by a more serious gang)
At this stage it is important to minimize these early gang-like characteristics because “They’re Gonnabe Gangstas!” They can develop into more of a problem because they have something to prove to their peers. So nip it the bud!
1 Identity is formed with membership in the gang
2 Antisocial behavior towards non-members
3 May begin alcohol/drug abuse
4 Increased criminal activity: intimidation, extortion, theft, burglary, etc.
5 Disruptive at home and school
6 Conflict with rivalries: fights, assaults, and crossing out graffiti
7 Leaving the gang may result in threats of repercussions
If an individual or group has gotten to this stage, address it NOW and SERIOUSLY! This may be the only opportunity you’ll have to peaceably deal with this problem.
1 Commitment to gang; membership is main focus
2 Alcohol/drug use is the center of socialization
3 Established criminal activity; mostly felony crimes
4 Turf claiming (controlling territory or neighborhood)
5 Most likely out of school: dropped out or expelled
6 Criminal history, possible incarceration
7 Violent rivalries involving weapons
8 Leaving brings repercussions, may not be an option
At this stage outside help is needed, definitely experts on gangs and law enforcement
1 Disassociation from non-gang society
2 Identifies his/her as a “ gangsta “
3 Incarceration accepted a way of life
4 “At War “ mentality with rivals and police; civilians are causalities of war
5 Consideration to leave gang, is not usually an option: attempts may result in death
This is the stage where people admit they have a “gang problem “
Female Gang Members
Girls become involved in street gangs either as girlfriends or full-fledged members of an affiliated girl gang with the same or similar name. The initiation into the gang sometimes includes some form of sexual assault. Most male gang members often use their female acquaintances to hold or transport drugs or weapons. They also act as false alibis or give witnesses for their male counterparts who are arrested or accused of criminal activity. The males also use the female’s cars and homes to stash drugs and weapons known as “safe houses”. Females are also used as “mules” to bring drugs to males that are incarcerated.
Consequences of Joining “Street Gangs”
1 Danger of attacks to you being a gang member from rival gangs through visual contact
2 Constant conflict with other gangs (more enemies than friends)
3 Danger of attacks to family and friends because of gang involvement
4 Increased chances of arrest while in the company of gang members
5 Increased chances of injury or death while associated with “targeted” gang members
6 Dependency on alcohol/drugs (abuse)
Parents and Adults Prevention Methods
1. Be a positive role model and set the right example for children to follow.
2. Always know where your children are, who they’re with, and enforce your curfew.
3. Encourage your children to participate in positive after-school activities.
4. Spend quality time with your children and teach them how to be responsible and productive citizens.
5. Help your child develop good conflict/resolution skills.
6. Stay alert if your child’s behavior and friends change. Sit down and explain the dangers of gang affiliation, including threats and retaliation against their family members.
7. Discourage your children from associating with gang members. Meet your children’s friends and parents. Find out who they are and who your child spends his free time with. If your child chooses friends that are mostly from gangs, then your child is involved or will become involved in one.
8. Get involved in your community. Know who your neighbors are. Organize or join a neighborhood watch group. Attend community functions with your children. Discourage gangs from hanging around your neighborhood. Remove graffiti from your home and community.
9. If you suspect your child is involved with a gang, search his/her belongings for weapons, drugs, and gang material. Then confront them immediately!
10. If your child’s gang involvement is confirmed, seek counseling from an anti-gang organization
11. Contact local law enforcement to report any gang activity and threats.
12. Support and stand firm on the prosecution of violent youth offenders.