Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 29th 2017 Contents HOW CAN PARENTS PLAY A PROACTIVE
ROLE IN PROTECTING THEIR CHILDREN FROM
BECOMING INVOLVED IN GANG ACTIVITIES?
Parents play an important role in keep-
ing young people out of gangs. There are
many things parents can do to help their
children stay away from gangs, including
monitoring their activities, fostering close
relationships with them, and using positive
and consistent discipline. However, parents
often lack factual information about gangs.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO PREVENT GANG
• Be Aware
• Know who your children’s friends are;
learn real names of your children’s
friends, get to know their families.
• Be a good observer - pay attention to
your child’s behaviour.
• Know about who and what influences
• Pay attention to the music they listen
to, the video games they play, the tele-
vision and movies they watch.
• Monitor internet activity, including
internet social networking activity.
• Monitor cell phone usage, text messag-
ing, and other forms of communication
with their friends.
• Know what your children are doing at
• Seek the facts - kids will tell you what
you want to hear.
• Learn about gangs and drugs.
DO NOT TOLERATE DRUGS AND VIOLENCE
• Do not allow them to wear gang attire.
• Monitor living space for gang parapher-
nalia, weapons, and drugs.
• Do not allow your children to ‘hang
out’ in the streets or mall.
• Be very suspicious of gang writing, graf-
fiti, or tattoos.
• Do not encourage anti-gang attitudes
• Set clear limits - follow through with
discipline if they break the rules.
• Report all crimes.
• Become involved with your children and
spend quality time with them.
• Strive for good communication between
you and your children, talk and listen
• Praise you children for doing well.
• Provide supervised recreational and
leisure-time activities for youngsters;
encourage your children to participate
in positive activities; involve your chil-
dren in positive group activities.
• Teach your children decision making
skills - help them make the right choic-
• Put a high value on education; partic-
ipate in your child’s education-find out
what’s happening at school.
• Get involved in your community and
• Set the example for your kids, they will
do what you do.
• Identify with positive role models.
• Believe in your children.
SHOULD I SEARCH MY CHILD'S ROOM?
There is no cut and dry answer to this
question. There are two schools of thought.
Teenagers can be a mystery. They can hide
materials and behaviours in plain sight. It
is called hidden in plain sight.
Parents are always trying to find clues
that might bring their kids’ risky behaviors
You may not want to conduct an open
police like search on the child’s room, how-
ever, it is the right of the parent to conduct
such a search.
Remember, children have rights, however,
you have a moral responsibility as an adult
to take care of the child. Check up to a
Being aware of what your child is doing
at all times is a moral responsibility not an
encroachment on their rights.
When my son was smaller he would hide
his report cards, discipline notices, etcetera
..and the teacher would let me know I didn’t
sign what they sent
Check through their backpacks, their purs-
es, their sports bags. Check through their
rooms, but not just their bedrooms - their
cars, if they’re driving,” said Marci Mason,
youth diversion officer for the Copley and
Revere schools in Ohio, USA.
You should search their room if you have
suspicion of something or they are acting
weird and you are doing them a favour by
looking out for them. If they behave good
and you have no worries with them you
giving them privacy should be a right they
Searches may not be the best answer to
juvenile gang issues as an Ounce of Preven-
tion is Worth a Pound of Suppression
In an effort to promote a safe prom sea-
son, John Knight, MD, director of Children’s
Hospital Boston’s Center for Adolescent
Substance Abuse Research(CeASAR)
launched Teen-safe.org, a website that
explains the medical and social dangers of
underage drinking. Here Knight discusses if
and when you should search your teen’s
room for contraband.
1. It’s not wrong to go through your child’s
room for contraband if you have a rea-
son to suspect that they may be involved
in illegal activities (n.b. Illegal is age
2. Announce the search on the spot, not
ahead of time.
3. Explain the reason for the search - pick
the right time - your grades are falling
etc., your friend just got into trouble
and it was for drugs etc.
4. Conduct a thorough search.
5. If you find something - do not accept
any excuses (common excuse, it’s not
mine. I was holding it for a friend.)
LAW ENFORCEMENT VIEWS:
What it comes down to is being aware
and alert, both in your children’s physical
world - their rooms, cars, and belongings
- and in their virtual world - on social media
and on their cell phones.
“You’ve got to be parents when it comes
to this, folks,” said Webb. “Who pays for
that phone? You do. That phone is yours.”
Be strict and be nosy, the officers say.
Talk with your kids about risky behaviours.
Let them know the dangers and answer their
If you suspect your son or daughter is
involved with gangs, or drugs-search their
bedroom. If you don’t have an extended
family to confront your son or daughter,
look to your co-workers, neighbors, parish-
ioners, gang outreach personnel, etc. You
must become resourceful. Drastic times call
for drastic measures!
PARENTS THAT WORK FULLTIME
1. Try and get your children involved in
activities outside of school. Children
that have a lot of unstructured time on
their hands are prime recruitment mate-
rial for gangs.
2. Look to your extended family for assis-
tance. Grandparents, uncles and aunts
(yours and your child’s) older cousins-all
of these can help provide structured
time for your child. Remember though,
the extended family’s activities can
never replace the valuable time that
you spend with your child.
3. The single parent who does not have
an extended family can try and obtain
help from co-workers, parishioners,
neighbors, and local organizations.
4. Surprise visits, phone calls, even con-
sider carrying them to work (even
though this may not always be possi-
5. Employ a mentor/coach.
6. Pathway/career centers
ACTIVITIES TO LOOK OUT FOR
WITH YOUR CHILD
• Changes in manner or dress and adopt-
ing gang-style clothing, jewelry, and/or
• Gang graffiti or symbols on his/her
• Changes in vocabulary and use of gang
• Changing a nickname to something
more acceptable to a gang.
• Bandanas worn on the head, tied to a
belt loop, wrapped around the wrist or
sticking out of a pocket,
• White T-shirts worn alone or under
• Coloured Shoelaces,
• One pant leg rolled up,
• Baggy, oversized pants with boxers
• Teardrop or spider web tattoos on neck
or next to thumb,
• Tattoos or words on knuckles,
• Gang names tattooed on body,
• Hand signs increasingly used as a form
• Drawing gang-related graffiti (crowns,
stars, hearts, pitchforks, gang’s name)
• Friends belong to gangs,
• Spending lots of unexplained time away
• Doing poorly in school, or dropping out,
• Sudden, unexplained increases in mate-
• Continually wearing the same color
ACTIVITIES TO LOOK OUT FOR
IN THE COMMUNITY
1. Graffiti is a clear marking of territori-
al boundaries which serves as a warn-
ing and challenge to rival gangs. It is
also used to communicate messages
2. Youth hanging out around public parks,
high schools, fast food stands, conve-
nience stores and other hang outs for
teenagers and frequent use of public
3. Increase in crime - Gang related acts
such as vandalism, assaults, burglaries,
robberies, and even random drive-by
Dr. Wendell C Wallace. All rights reserved
tobagotoday.co.tt June 28 - 2017
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