Three goals that parents and communities should seek to reduce the adverse impact of gangs, its associated violence and its devastating life-long impacts are:
What is a gang?
A gang is a group of people who want to be seen as different from others and want others to perceive them as a distinct group. This group is organized, has leadership, and is committing criminal acts in the community.
Gang membership is not in and of itself illegal. However, when the "youth group" turns to criminal activity everyone is about to become a loser.
Gangs establish their reputation by the types and severity of the crimes they commit. The more heinous the crime the more "juice" or reputation the gang gets. In the seedy street gang world, the more "juice" you have the more respect you get!
Florida Statutes 874.03 says a criminal street gang is a formal or informal ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons who have:
Does our community have gangs?
No single criminal or unlawful activity will indicate there are gangs in your community. These conditions may indicate the possible existence of gangs:
Photo obtained from
Gang Prevention Inc.
Check out the Gang Assessment Tool at the bottom of this web page.
How do gangs recruit members?
Lots of sweet talk, peer pressure, or fear and intimidation. Kids are often confronted by gang members in their neighborhoods or in school and are asked to join the gang. A Chicago public school survey showed 41% of students were contacted and asked to join gangs. Young people are told the "Big Lies" about all the good things that happen when they join. They are told they will earn a lot of money, make friends, go to parties, and belong to a close "family" that will care for and 'love' them.
Why do youths join gangs?
This answer all depends on the socio-economic background of the youth. In general terms they join for a sense of power, excitement, recognition/prestige and they believe the gang allows them to achieve a level of status that was impossible to attain outside of the gangs.
Do females join gangs?
Female gang membership is sky rocketing. Current trends are that specific female gangs are emerging here in Florida and all over the Nation. Females are valued by the majority of gangs, but they are not true members and are often in support roles like carrying the weapons and drugs.