Pre-Teens & Gangs

Gang involvement can begin as early as elementary school. Children as young as 7 or 8 years old have been recruited to work for gangs.

Early Warning Signs


Parents and educators should watch for the signs that their children or students may be involved with gangs. Changes in a child's behavior or activities which may be early warning signs of gang involvement include:
  • Alcohol and other drug use
  • Change of friends
  • Decline in grades
  • Developing major attitude problems with parents, teachers or others in authority
  • Glamorizing gangs
  • Having large sums of money or expensive items which cannot be explained
  • Keeping late hours
  • Truancy

Signs of Gang Involvement


Telltale signs of gang involvement include:
  • Disclosure of gang membership
  • Gang graffiti in his or her bedroom, on books, clothing, athletic shoes, posters and bedroom walls
  • Gang style language
  • Gang tattoos or gang insignias
  • Gang uniforms or gang colors, red or blue
  • Hand signals to communicate with other gang members; will often practice in the mirror "flashing" hand signs
  • Photos showing gang names, slogans, insignia, hand signals, or individuals involved in gang activities
  • Witnesses connecting the individual to gang activity

What Parents Can Do


  • Be willing to identify and address the dynamics within your family, as well as factors within the neighborhood and school that could be contributing to your child's gang involvement.
  • Increase your awareness of your child's belongings, clothes, and room. Know who their friends are and where they "hang out."
  • Report and immediately remove any graffiti in your neighborhood or local school grounds.
  • TAKE ACTION! This is the most important thing you can do as an individual, a group, or an organization. Don't ignore the signs of gang activity.
  • Talk to school officials and counselors. Ask if they are aware of campus problems and if there are school programs that will help.
  • Talk to your children. Get answers to your questions about their behavior and discuss the consequences of being in a gang.

Reporting Gang Activity


If you suspect gang activity in your neighborhood or school or suspect your child may be involved in gang activity, please call 707-543-GANG. If it is an emergency, call 911. If you suspect gang activity is occurring elsewhere in Sonoma County, call "MAGNET" at 707-565-2511. If you happen to see an officer in your neighborhood, notify him or her of the problem. The only way to combat the gang problem is to work together.

Gang Prevention


There is gang prevention and intervention help now available through the City of Santa Rosa’s Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force. If you would like information about these services, please call the Santa Rosa Department of Recreation and Parks at 707-543-3457.