What are the symptoms youth might display when moving towards gang culture?
If we look at the youth, we can see that there are particular phases, which youth go through when they join a gang. They don’t just wake up one morning and decide to become a gangster! It is a gradual process that they go through.
Interest and Admiration: This stage occurs with youngsters’ aged 7-9.
At this point, there are symptoms that parents need to know and to watch out for. Because when kids begin this phase, they will have certain changes in their behaviour. If the parents don’t know what is going on, it will come at them all of a sudden. They will find their son in a gang and wonder how did this happen because they had no consciousness of how the gang mentality evolves.
- Problems at school: In the 7-9 year aged range, they are already problems at school. Problems with teachers, with other students, problems which you in growing up, never experienced.
- At home: Even though, they are between 7 and 9, you will start to find some defiance of authority, they are not following your instructions, and they resist family instructions by the elders in the family. They don’t want to go to bed at their set times, they want to stay up later. You may also find a certain amount of detachment from some of the members of the family. They don’t associate much with the family and seem to prefer loneliness.
The Introductory Level (10-13 year old):
- Change in Routine: They will come home later than their normal time.
- Different Friends: The friends that they bring to the house don’t look the same, these look a bit shady than the other innocent ones which they used to bring earlier.
- Secretive: They don’t want you to know about what they are doing. They stay up late at night and get very irritable. They have anger issues. They try to keep their parents away from their room. No one can enter their room except them.
- Controlling Parents: Some of them are able to control their parents, they by threatening to do things that would embarrass them. The parents eventually succumb to these threats to keep their child happy.
- Red Eyes: WARNING: Your kids are smoking marijuana! Kids walking in with red eyes imply big problems at your hands.
- Check their Pockets: Do this when they don’t know. Because when they have reached this stage, they start to become a bit disoriented and disorganized, and though they try to hide their stuff, they will definitely slip up. You may find things in their pockets that shouldn’t be there.
Full Membership (14-21 years): Now they have become full members of the gang.
- They will be absent from home for many days, sleeping outside the home.
- Their grades have dropped.
- They break all curfews at homes.
- They drop out of school.
- They openly rebel against their parents, they will threaten to move out and some actually do that. Of course, the parents will be emotional and the child will blackmail them to allow them to be in the house and also to smoke pot in the house itself. You think you have saved the bigger one, but you have sealed the fate of the younger ones who grow up seeing this.