Many gang members say they joined because the gang offered them support, caring and a sense of order and purpose; all the things most parents try to give their kids. The odds are that the better you meet these needs, the less need your children will see for gangs.
Here are some parenting skills that are especially important:
Do everything possible to involve your children in supervised, positive group activities.
Help your children identify positive role models and heroes, especially people in your community.
Know what your children are doing and with whom. Know about their friends and their friends' families.
Praise them for doing well and encourage them to do their very best - to stretch their skills to the utmost.
Put a high value on education and help your child do his or her best in school. Do everything possible to prevent dropping out.
Talk with and listen to your child. Spend some special time with each child.
Address the Issue
It is important to discuss with your child gangs and the problems they can create. The best time to talk about gangs is before there's a major problem. Tell your child:
You disapprove of gangs.
You don't want to see your child hurt or arrested.
You see your child as special and worth protecting.
You want to help your child with any problems he or she might face.
Family members don't keep secrets from each other.
You and other parents are working together against gangs.
Listen to what your child has to say.
Talk to Other Parents
For one thing, you'll find out what everyone else's parent really said. For another, you can support each other and share knowledge that will help spot problems sooner than you can on your own.