Gang Identification




  • A group of individuals, juvenile and or adult, who associate on a continuous basis, form an allegiance for a common purpose, and are involved in delinquent or criminal activity.
  • A group of people who, through the organization, formation, and establishment of an assemblage, share a common identity. 


  • An estimated 24,500 gangs exist in the US.
  • In 2007 - 772,500 active US gang members.
  • In 2009 – 1 Million Gang Members in the US. Mostly males ages 13 – 17.
  • Cities with emerging gang problems report more females and more mixed/ethnic groups than those with long term gang problems.

Top 10 Gangs In Maryland By County

....coming soon

Why Do Kids Join Gangs

Many youth are introduced to the gang culture at a very young age. Membership and loyalty to the neighborhood gang becomes a matter of family and honor.

Stress In The Home
  • Unstable/Broken Home
  • Economic Instability
  • Low education attainment and expectations
  • Family members in a gang
  • Neglect by one or both parents
  • Violence in the home or in the community, directed at the child
  • Alcoholism and or drug abuse by one or both of the parents
Stress in School

In the 1940’s the Department of Education asked teachers to list the discipline problems in public schools:
  • Talking 
  • Chewing gum
  • Making noise 
  • Running in the halls
  • Getting out of the line 
  • Improper Clothing
  • Not putting paper in the waste basket
The same survey taken in the 1990's
  • Drug / Alcohol Abuse Teen Pregnancy
  • Gang Violence
  • Suicide
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Bombing
  • Abortion
  • Aids/HIV
  • Extortion
  • Vandalism
  • Absenteeism
  • Murder
  • School Shootings
How Kids Develop Their Social Values In 1950 and In the late 1990’s

   IN 1950 LATE 1900'S

Movies That Glamorize The Gang Culture

As parents we should be aware of what our children are watching in the movies and on television. Below are a list of the top movies that glamorize the gang culture. Some of these are very good movies with excellent actors. The problem is they do not represent gang culture as it truly is. They do not accurately portray the consequences or ramifications of being in a gang.   
  • 1988 – Colors
  • 1992 – American Me
  • 1998 – Mi Vida Loca
  • 1991 – Boyz in the Hood
  • 1991 – New Jack City
  • 1993 – Blood in Blood Out
  • 1998 – American History X
  • 2000 – Romeo Must Die
  • 2001 – Baby Boy
  • 2003 - Cradle 2 Grave
  • 2007 – American Gangster
  • 2009 – Notorious (B.I.G)
 Famous People That Openly Display The Gang Culture

Our children live in a world of digital media. A song can be released via the internet one second and in the next second it can be downloaded. A movie or video clip can be posted in seconds and then be viewed, emailed, or downloaded, via computer, tablet, or smartphone. Some of our children's most popular sports idols and favorite musicians are affiliated with national street gangs. Athletes have been know to openly display gang signs on national television, Top musicians song openly glamorize gang culture. Not all rap or pop culture music is offensive. As parents you should monitor what your children are listening and watching. The easiest way to monitor their music is to Google the lyrics of the song.

  • Lil Wayne (Music, Founder of Young Money Entertainment)
  • Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics)
  • Rick Ross (Teflon Don)
  • Derek Rose (Chicago Bulls)
  • Snoop Dog (Music)
  • Nicki Minaj (Music)
  • Drake (Music)
  • Tyga (Music)

Sample Lyrics From Popular Rap Songs

LiL Wayne
"shooting till my motherf**kin hand fall off the trackstars the gun shot ran yall off I pop like a soda watch the can fall off I can kill yall and yall boss"
Jae Millz
"My homeboys got bad tempers, and there's no controlling them So if you say you holding them, you better be unloading them Cause I'll have your Reverend standing up at your podium Your momma falling over him like (no no no) Plus recently I been watching a lot of cats Cause this game got me prepared for all types of acts I know you cats wanna see me laid flat That's why when you reach for daps I'm like (no no no)"
Nicki Minaj
"Alot of rap ni**as be trynna play hard I was told only reach for the heat if you’re [? ] So when I lift da shirt dats da end of discussion Click Clak mutha f**kaz, I ain’t trynna hear dat"

Video Games And Cartoon Characters Can Also Be  Used To Promote Gangs

...coming soon...

Indicators Of Gang Activity

  • Hand signs
  • Graffiti
  • Groups squaring off
  • Increase of colors
  • Presence of non students
  • Cars rolling by after school
  • Tension among students
  • Increase in weapons and drugs
  • Reports of student concerns

Red Flags: Does Your Child:

  • Have a change of dress style
  • Have a new or unusual nick name
  • Have tattoos
  • Have a large amount or unexplained cash
  • Have new friends
  • Have a problem in school
  • Graffiti on note books or self
  • Become violent
  • Display or wear gang colors
  • Unusually Tardy
  • Started Skipping Class

How Gangs Function

Gangs thrive on intimidation and notoriety. They often find violence glamorous and a necessity in order to maintain individual and gang status. Like most groups, street gangs depend upon both individual and group participation. Unlike legitimate groups or organizations, street gangs generally do not have an identified leader. The person who is the toughest, has the guns, or has the most money may emerge as the leader, but this status is generally short-lived.

Effects Of Gang Involvement

Gang membership extracts a terrible toll from the lives of all who are in contact with the member. Families of gang members must be concerned for their own safety as well as that of their son or daughter who is a gang member. Friends who are not involved with gangs are cast aside and soon the youth's only friends are gang members.
Gang membership, although a temporary phase for some youths, will shape the individual's future. Formal education is discarded because it is counter to the gang's objectives. Gang members who are not killed or seriously injured often develop patterns of alcohol and narcotics abuse, and extensive police records that limit future employment opportunities.

Neighborhood Involvement

Gang members use graffiti to mark their gang's "turf" or "territory." They also use it to advertise the gang's status or power and to declare their own allegiance to the gang.  A rival gang identifies everyone in the neighborhood as a potential threat. Consequently, innocent residents can be subjected to gang violence or theft by the mere presence of graffiti in their neighborhood.
Gangs attempt to instill fear, intimidating rivals and citizens alike. The gang's power grows through use of fear and intimidation. This can be countered by citizen action groups such as Neighborhood Watch. A neighborhood that is united and dedicated in a spirit of cooperation toward stopping crime and violence will greatly hamper the gang's effort to flourish.
When incidents occur, cooperate with authorities. Your help and cooperation may prevent others from becoming victims of gang violence. Information concerning gang crimes, wanted suspects, or any violent gang activity should be reported to the police.
How To Discourage Your Children From Joining Gangs

Discourage your children from hanging around with gang members. Meet your children's friends. Find out who they are, what influence they have on your children and how they and your children spend their free time. If your children choose friends that are mostly from gangs, then your children are probably involved or will become involved in one also.

Occupy your children's free time.Give them responsibilities at home. Get them involved in after-school sports, city/county recreation, dance, the arts, and other busy activities.

Develop good communication with your children.Good communication is open and frequent, and it takes on a positive tone. It allows your children to come to you to discuss any topic or problem. It does not condemn or put down. Good communication allows you to tell your children that you love them.

Spend time with your children. Plan activities that the whole family can enjoy. Spend time alone with your children. Expose them to different places outside of your neighborhood: parks, museums, the beach, camping trips, etc.

Do not buy or allow your children to dress in gang style clothing. If your children dress in gang style clothing, they are expressing an interest in gangs and will attract the attention of gangs. If they are in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time, they could be victimized.

Set limits for your children. At an early age, children need to know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behavior. Do not allow your children to stay out late or spend a lot of unsupervised time out in the streets.

Do not allow your children to write or practice writing gang names, symbols, or any other gang graffiti on their books, papers, clothes, bodies, walls or any other place.

Teach them respect for others' property. Develop an anti-gang environment in your home. Clearly and continually begin to express to your children at an early age your disapproval of gang activity and of any family members joining a gang.

Learn about gang and drug activity in your community. Learn how gang members dress, how they speak, their behavior and their activities. Attend information meetings, read articles related to gang activity.


Joe Hudson - Hispanic Liaison

410-268-9000 ext. 7304

National Gang Center