5. Be aware of peer pressure. If your child is surrounded by gangs or family members who are gang members, it becomes much easier and much more seductive to join. Gangs often host parties to entice new recruits, which are exciting to bored children. Pay attention to who your child is around and influenced by. It may mean you will have to move or find a safe place for your child, but do what is necessary to avoid a destructive path for your child to follow.
6. In the Houston area a web site to go for help is www.stophoustongangs.org If you want out of a gang and you don’t know where to turn, call the Houston Police Force and ask for the gang division. They will help you get out safely.
It always saddens me to see the faces of six-year-old children shown with the 17-year-old murderer they became. The grin of the six-year-old did not have the parenting or family support they needed to avoid the gang life, which was on display all around them each day of their life. A murderer is a murderer, and it is too late at that point to change the outcome. If parents become more aware and stand firm in support of their children, we can become a force of hope against the terrorism of gangs. –Mary Jo Rapini
With special thanks to Sarina Rapini MPA (http://sarinarapini.weebly.com) for helping me help parents. Losing a child to a gang is a tragedy of the worst kind.
Vigil, J. D. 2010. Gang Redux: A Balanced Anti-Gang Strategy. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
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