1. Create a loving home environment
The school and the home should be safe places. That includes getting to school safely. Unfortunately, many times children feel they have no choice. They may prefer not to become a gang member but cannot see any other way to avoid the situation. Children may live in daily fear and see joining a gang as a solution to problems.
2. Create a safe neighbourhood
Parents must join hands as a community to ensure their area is safe for living, learning and playing. Children join gangs as a means of protection from rival gangs. Children may view their neighbourhood gang as a solution to the torment and threats from other gangs. If children get into trouble with the law, parents must let their children suffer the consequences of illegal behaviour. Note: If you protect children from the law, they don’t learn responsibility.
3. Take a stand as a family against gangsterism.
If a family member sets the example of joining a gang, younger siblings will follow suit just to fit in. Children may also begin to wear specific colours or other clothing associated with gangs. So make sure you know the tell-tale signs of gang insignia, hairstyles, language and tattoos – because it might indicate that your child is already involved.
4. Keep your children engaged and busy.
As a parent, be involved in coordinating and sponsoring activities for children. The more community involvement there is – the less control gangs will have over a community. If unsupervised time becomes excessive, children will search for something to do to prevent boredom. Gang activities can fill time. Parents should form community groups that can supervise children’s activities. It is essential to know where your child is at all times. Children must be held accountable for their whereabouts.
5. Get kids involved in community work.
Parents must encourage and support kids in sports, clubs, or fun activities and taps their energy. Parents should also lead by example and teach kids to help clean up neighbourhoods and create safe living spaces. If you don’t initiate and supervise activities – gangs will.
6. Teach your kids how criminals and gangs use people.
Kids need to learn that earning honest money involves honest work. Teach them the risk of making fast cash in the world of criminals, and they hold these people then have on you. A gangster can offer a child more money to deliver one package than its parent makes in a week. It can be very appealing to children to earn money fast. Children must understand the risks and know that police and the law will enforce consequences. They must realise that they are used to more senior older gang members who do not want to get caught.
7. Teach your kids the value of honest work.
As parents, you have to set an example of honesty and integrity. Teach your children to be proud of their accomplishments and earn money legitimately. Would you please encourage them to stay in school and encourage their dreams of a career one day? Children who do chores around the house learn work ethics. Would you please enable them also to take part in community work?
8. Teach your essential basic life skills
Parents must teach children how to share, compromise, take turns, listen to what others say, and be group members. Children who feel valuable and important in the home will feel more comfortable with others. Parents must encourage participation in youth organisations and athletic teams for children to practice group skills. Parents must be willing to get involved to manage them. Also, set a good example for your children when you participate in group settings.
9. Build your child’s self–esteem.
Parents must strengthen children’s sense of purpose by encouraging them to live their dreams. As a parent, always show respect for other people and your children. Never run them down or allow anyone else to do it. Set an example to respect authority, respect others and always do your best in everything you do. Children do what you do – not what you say. Help children set realistic goals, so they feel a sense of accomplishment. Challenge your children to expand their interests. Work with the school to determine what opportunities are available for children.
10. Take hands with support groups/NGOs
Parents can develop a support group in the community that can deal with children’s sorrow or frustration. Know the resources in your community and national resources. Children may join a gang to retaliate for personal injury or damage to friends or family.