Getting in trouble with your parents is bad, but getting in trouble with the law can be worse. Many risky behaviors can lead to legal risks.
Vandalism is the willful destruction or defacing of property. Not only is it disrespectful, but it’s also a crime. Damage done is often very expensive to repair and it can make our communities unattractive and unsafe. Plus, it isn’t a nice thing to do to the people who live there.
If you get caught, it could result in imprisonment for up to 10 years.
A gang is a group of peers that hang out and take part in illegal, violent or criminal activity together. They usually have a name or symbol that represents them. They may also choose to wear a certain type of clothing or to display some other item that lets others know what gang they’re in.
Teens join gangs for many reasons. They could be looking for a thrill, prestige, protection, a chance to make money or just a sense of belonging. There are better ways to find all of these things that don’t involve joining a gang.
Most people are not forced to join gangs, and they can refuse to join without fear of retaliation.
There are lots of ways to avoid legal behavior. Here are a few tips….
- Find positive ways to spend your time and energy. If you are looking for a purpose or a way to belong, try joining a sports team or participating in an afterschool program. You can meet people who share your interests while exploring your interests and learning new skills.
- Avoid gangs and gang members. Be aware of local gangs’ symbols, clothing and colors. You don’t want to misrepresent yourself as a gang member or you could end up being an innocent target.
- Carrying a weapon is not likely to make you safe, so don’t carry one.
- If you feel threatened by someone or are in immediate danger, contact someone you trust as soon as possible (parent, school administrator, coach etc.). Don’t take matters into your own hands. Be safe by staying in groups and avoid being along if you feel threatened.
- Report any suspicious activity you see.
Many risky behaviors lead to legal risks. Getting involved with the wrong crowd, gangs, taking part in vandalism or abusing drugs and alcohol all carry high risk and high repercussions when caught.
Getting caught up in vandalism or gangs often has to do with the need to fit in. Teens generally seek out a group they have something in common with. If the group of friends are in a gang or engaging in destructive behavior the teen is likely to follow suit.
A gang is a group of peers that hang out and take part in illegal, violent, or criminal activity together. Most often they have a common name or symbol that represents them. Generally they also choose to wear a certain type of clothing or display some other item that reflects what gang they are a part of.
Teens join gangs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are thrill-seeking while others are looking for prestige, protection, a chance to make money, or a sense of belonging. In most cases, individuals are not forced to join gangs and they can refuse to join without fear of retaliation.
Teens like to hang out with people like themselves. Whether they play sports, are academic or are musically inclined, most teens find a group of peers who have similar interests. When teens can’t seem to find that group or if they are having trouble in school, they may turn to others who have similar issues in common. Often those that join a gang struggle with school, have a learning disorder or don’t have anything that makes them feel accepted or part of a peer group.
Is Your Child at Risk?
All children/teens are susceptible to making poor decisions and joining a gang. It doesn’t matter if they are male or female. They can be from any financial, ethnic or racial background, from a healthy family or one that is dysfunctional.
There are some risk factors that lead to gang membership more often however. For instance, there are many more males than females in gangs – although female gangs are growing in popularity. Here are a few risk factors that may lead youth to join a gang. They may be more susceptible if they:
- Have a violent streak and/or have been in trouble with the law already
- Live in a home with only one parent or have another caretaker other than their birth parents
- Suffer from neglect
- Do not do well academically
- Struggle to see a future and have difficulty securing a job
- Experience poor living conditions or poverty
- Are isolated from their peers
Some warning signs that may indicate gang involvement include:
- Change in circle of friends and types of friends they hang out with
- Change in dress habits
- Displaying symbols that you are unfamiliar with on their books, clothing or locker. (These may be gang symbols.)
- Speaking in slang or using hand signals to communicate with others
- Having cash but no real job
- Carrying a weapon
- Losing interest in school and family
- Alcohol and drug abuse
Vandalism is the willful destruction or defacement of property. The damage done is often very expensive to repair, makes our communities unattractive and affects everyone who lives in the community. It is a criminal offence and could result in imprisonment for up to 10 years when convicted of this crime.
There isn’t one particular type of person who vandalizes, but most vandals are young people. Vandals range from scholars to the class clown. Vandalism can be a product of rage, but sometimes teens are misled to think it is a form of artistic expression.
Reasons Why Youth Vandalize:
- The influence of friends or gangs
Here are some things that you can do to watch for signs of gang involvement:
- Find out up-to-date information on gangs and learn the signs of gang activity—such as graffiti, hand signs, clothing styles or colors.
- Communicate with your child/student.
- Introduce healthy activities into the youth’s life – sports, hobbies, youth clubs, volunteering, religious groups etc. Be sure they have something to do after school.
- Take note of who your child spends time with. Get to know their friends.
- Discuss the consequences of being in a gang.
- Don’t be afraid to ask others to help. Get other trusted adults involved in your child’s life. The more people looking out for your child and creating a loving/well-structured environment for him/her to grow up in, the better.