The Parent’s Guide to Gangs (en Español), published by the National Youth Gang Center and the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, provides information on gangs and can help you recognize and prevent gang involvement. The pocket guide explains behaviors associated with joining a gang, common gang identifiers, and what parents can do to keep kids away from gangs.
Four Major Reasons Why Kids Join Gangs
- Identity or Recognition - Being a part of a gang allows the members to achieve a level of status they feel they cannot achieve outside of the gang's culture.
- Protection - Kids join the gang because they live in a gang area and are subject to violence by rival gangs. Kids join in an attempt to obtain safety from the violence.
- Fellowship and Brotherhood--The gang functions as an extension of, or substitute for the family, and may provide companionship lacking in the home environment.
- Intimidation--Some members are forced into joining by peer groups. Intimidation techniques range from extorting lunch money to physical assault.
Palm Bay does not have a serious gang problem. The emerging gang problems have been recognized and are being dealt with effectively by the Police Department's Crime Suppression Officers, Neighborhood Policing Coordinators, and uniformed Patrol Officers. We currently have an estimated 300 gang members in the Palm Bay, Melbourne, and West Melbourne areas. These areas must be included when discussing the gang problem in Palm Bay, because, as we have seen, these gangs are very mobile and tend to travel from their neighborhoods to commit criminal activity. Of this group, less than 20% are hard-core members. Since identifying and targeting known problem areas and key gang members, we have decreased the violent crimes involving gangs. This decrease is a result of the zero tolerance of gangs and the proactive stance taken by the Palm Bay Police Department on the gang issue. In addition, the Palm Bay Police Department provides education to teachers, students, civic groups and other law enforcement agencies to further the awareness of gangs.