Gangs: Looking Out For Your Kids - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Gangs: Looking Out For Your Kids

Teens and pre-teens are the prime recruits, who gang members are after these days. The average age for a gang member is getting younger and younger. Children ages 11 to 12 or 5th and 6th graders are prime targets for recruitment, according to Amarillo gang investigators.

That's one  of the many reasons police and gang investigator Corporal Steve Powers are pushing parents to stay proactive keeping kids out of gangs.

Cpl. Powers said,  "People make the mistake. They look at the colors, side of town, where they go to school who their parents are. That has nothing to do with it".

What does have something to do with gangs are the subtle changes only parents can see in their child.   Powers says parents need to be cognoscente of what their children are doing.  "Difference in their attitude, grades dropping. New friends they can't explain. Maybe petty crimes," Powers explained.

Other signs your child may be involved in gangs are:

*Changes in the style and colors they wear

*Unusual graffiti on books, body or clothing

*Unexplained money

Police advise parents that those signs may not be fool proof, but if you notice a change they strongly encourage parents to address their child and the issue.  "If you find it in their room. Who gave it to you? What was the idea for it? What is the idea behind it? Who taught you. Find out what's going on in their mind?," according to Cpl. Powers.

"You have to look at them for 2 1/2 weeks. Pick up on all the nonverbal clues that they're throwing at you", Powers said.

Another tip he gives parents, is to not make a hasty decision, observe your teen. "You never give up on the kid as long as you're addressing it with the individual child and they see the consequences to their choices. They'll usually make the right decision," Powers said.

Gang investigators say in the end persistence will pay off.  If you believe your child is in a gang, a parent can seek out counseling, a school liaison officers or the police.

They encourage parents to call the gang unit at 378-6135.

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