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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary

Parent and Community Awareness Strategies

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:

    Photo of teenager sitting in room filled with gang symbolism.
  • Raise your gang awareness level.The majority of parents today have no idea what is going on in the corrupting and slimy abyss of street gangs. These mothers and fathers do not realize these gangs have a very strong and constant attraction to our children. From so called "youth groups" (who are led by 47 year old men) to "Rap Artists" (who are/were street gang members) to camouflaged socially conscious, self-help/save the children organizations (Growth and Development–new spin, new name–Gangster Disciples) and political action groups (21st Century V.O.T.E.–Gangster Disciples), our socially/culturally conscientious, community involved, fashion minded, want to be "cool" kids are targeted by these sneaky, street-wise criminals.


  • Photo of two children signing
  • Supervise your children. Our kids want, need and expect clear limits on their activities. So do the right thing and set them, right along with reasonable consequences for violations, and most importantly, make the call and stick to your decision. Being "the nice guy" only makes a mockery of your disciplinary efforts in the eyes of your child. Know who your kid's friends are and what he/she is doing with them.

  • Get involved with your children, your neighborhood and your community. Photo of two children signing. Do you know your neighbor two or three houses down from you? The majority of people do not. Take an active interest in your child's school. Get to know the teachers and volunteer to support activities. Participating in your child's activities and interests will be time well invested in his/her future.

What Parents Frequently Ask About Gangs:

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:

  • A common name or common identifying signs, colors, or symbols.
  • Members or associates who individually or collectedly, engaged in or have engaged in a pattern of youth and street gang activity such as fighting, vandalism, murder, and drug sales.

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 of Simon City Royals graffiti.
Photo obtained from
Gang Prevention Inc.

  • Rampant graffiti on streets, curbs, buildings, in schools, etc.
  • Widespread vandalism, auto thefts, robberies/muggings.
  • Senseless crimes of violence.
  • Fighting between youths followed by crimes committed with weapons.
  • Citizen complaints of thugs causing fear and intimidation within their neighborhood.
  • Youths commonly seen traveling in groups.
  • Most importantly, drug trafficking and use.

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. Photo of two female gang members.

  • Prestige or power
  • Friendship or brotherhood
  • Protection/security from gang violence
  • Making a lot of money fast
  • Feeling of belonging and being cared about
  • Media glorification of the gang lifestyle

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.