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Gang Awareness

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What is a "gang"?

A gang is a group or association of 3 or more persons who may have a common identifying sign, symbol or name and who individually or collectively engage in, or have engaged in, criminal activity which creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

What is a "criminal street gang"?

Any ongoing organization, association, or group of 3 or more persons,whether formal or informal, having one of its primary activities the commission of felony or violent misdemeanor offenses or delinquent acts that would be felonies or violent misdemeanors if committed by an adult and, having a common name or common identifying sign, colors or symbols.

Is it illegal to be in a gang?

In North Carolina, it is not a crime to be in a gang. However, the crimes committed while in the presence or in association of a street gang are considered as aggravating factors in the court system.

Why do youth join gangs?

There are several reasons why individuals join gangs to include respect,self-identity, protection, a sense of belonging, to counter peer intimidation, to replace a dysfunctional family, lack of economic opportunity, desire for excitement, lack of positive alternative activities, forced into joining by gang members, born into a family with gang members and the acceptance of gangs in popular culture.

What are the signals that can indicate gang membership?

There are several signs which may indicate involvement in a gang to include a change in style of clothing (usually wearing one particular color such as dark blue or red), withdrawing from the family, declining grades, poor school attendance, unexplained money or new possessions,tattoos, nicknames, graffiti on personal items affiliated with a group,using hand signals, excessive disciplinary referrals at school, desires privacy more often, starting to show signs of alcohol and/or drug abuse,and frequent contact with local police.

Can you get out of a gang?

Yes, and it takes a combined effort of assistance from family, local law enforcement, the faith community, and other community-based resources. If you want to get out of a gang:

  • Make a plan for getting out.

  • Never tell the gang that you plan to leave. Your safety may be at risk.

  • Begin spending time doing other things instead of hanging out with the gang.

  • Look for possibilities to spend time with your family in activities such as sports, arts programs, church functions, school activities, etc. outside of the gang.

  • Stop dressing and acting like a "gangster."

  • Stop hanging out with gang members and talking like a gang member.

  • Find individuals outside of the gang to provide you with support such as parents, teachers, mentors, counselors, coaches etc.

  • Find people who will support you and believe in you.

  • Talk with someone you trust.

  • Do not engage in criminal activity.

Are real gangs and gang members only in large cities?

Gangs have begun to migrate to smaller communities throughout the United States, which include smaller cities and communities in N.C.

What can parents do if they suspect their child is involved in a gang?

It is important to talk with your child about the consequences of being in a gang. Know who your child's friends are. Spend quality time with your child. Be your child's role model. Provide adult supervision during activities. Encourage your child to become involved in school, sports, church and other community activities. The three most important things parents can do are:

  1. Provide consistency in parenting through involvement with your child

  2. Show respect and listen to your child; demonstrate positive value systems

  3. Help your child find an inner strength perspective that is, find out what is his/her strength in life (whether it is a sport, creative skill or ability) and compliment your child. Find ways to develop this positive skill and give your child love, support and guidance.

What are the consequences of being in a gang?

Gang involvement is never a good idea. It can put the individual and their families and friends in danger. Although membership is sometimes temporary, it can have long-term negative effects on a child's future. Gang members frequently drop out of school and end up in jail. As a result, it is difficult to obtain a job. Many gang members suffer from the effects of drug and alcohol abuse. Some female gang members suffer from sexual abuse. As well, gang members frequently are faced with serious injury and may be killed due to their involvement within a gang.

What do I do if I see graffiti in my neighborhood?

On November 27, 2006, the Rocky Mount City Council approved a Graffiti Ordinance for our community. In order to track the relationship of graffiti with possible gang activity citizens are asked to report locations of graffiti to Police Department at 972-1411. Once the information is reported to the police department, the information will be forwarded to Community Code to begin the removal process according to the city ordinance.

What do I do if I see criminal gang involvement in my neighborhood?

If you observe any suspicious activity, contact 972-1411 to report the incident. For emergencies or crimes in progress, call 911. You may also report information to a recorded crime tip line, "Crime Stoppers" at 252-977-1111. You do not have to give your name.