Chief of Police
Criminal Investigations Bureau
Police & Community Services Bureau
Informative Items and Resources
A gang is defined as: "A group of three or more persons who have a common identifying sign, symbol, or name who individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in, criminal activity which creates and atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Criminal activity includes juvenile acts that if committed by an adult would be a crime." NJSA 2C:44-3h
Characteristics associated with "Gang" Involvement:
Parents and citizens need to be aware of some of the characteristics of gang members. Prevention is the key to keeping our youth from joining gangs. If the warning signs are identified early, then the youth can be directed away from gang activity.
**While each of these indicators, viewed separately, are not signs of gang involvement, viewed together they may indicate gang involvement.
•Associating with a new set of friends while ignoring old friends. Usually will not talk about new friends, who they are or what they do together.
•Change of hair style and/or clothing or associating with other youths who have same hair style and/or same clothing. Usually some of the clothing, such as a hat or jacket, will have the gang's initials, and/or the youth's "street" name on it.
•Increase in amount of money they have, without explanation where it came from, or other possessions that youth could not have bought themselves, (i.e. stereos, jewelry, etc.)
•Indications of drug, alcohol or inhalant abuse. Signs of inhalant abuse will sometimes be paint or "white-out" found on the youth's clothes, or the smell of chemicals on their clothes.
•Change in attitude about things the youth used to enjoy such as sports, hobbies or church. Youth becomes a discipline problem at school, in public, or in the home. Youth no longer accepts parent's authority and challenges it frequently.
•Problems at school, such as failing classes, "cutting" school or class, causing problems in class, being disrespectful to teachers.
•Usually will show fear of the police.
•Signs that youth has been in a fight, such as cuts and bruises or complaints of pain, but youth won't explain what happened.
•Graffiti is present on or around the youth's residence, or on notebooks or the other possessions of the youth.
If several of the indicators above are found in your youth, then there is an indication your youth may be involved in a gang. As a parent or guardian, you have the right to ensure your families safety, and you may wish to search your youth's room or vehicle for weapons or drugs. This is not a violation of your child's privacy. It is an act that may protect your child as well as the rest of the family.
•MEET YOUR CHILDREN'S FRIENDS, make it a point to meet each friend, learn where they live and who their parents are, then meet those parents.
•ESTABLISH RULES FOR YOUR CHILDREN, set limits and be consistent in enforcing those rules. Young people need limits, and will respond to those limits when properly enforced. Be firm but fair when disciplining, and show your children that you care about them and are concerned for their future.
•SPEAK TO TEACHERS AND SCHOOL COUNSELORS, meet and discuss your child with their teachers, learn what areas you can help your child with. Join PTA or other parent groups and be involved in the quality of education your child receives. Attend the child's school functions, show them school is important.
•WHEN YOUR CHILD IS GOING OUT, know where your child is going, who he/she is going with and how will he/she will get there. Set a reasonable time for the child to return home, and enforce that time. (remember Curfew in Egg Harbor Township is 10pm) If possible, provide enough money for the child to participate in the activity with the other children. This prevents the embarrassment that he/she cannot buy something or do the same things.
•ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO PARTICIPATE IN SPORTS OR OTHER ACTIVITIES Children need to belong and want to be part of something, so let them belong to PAL, or a sports team, not a gang. Support other outside interests (PAL, Explorers, hobbies, church, etc.) these build self-esteem and give the child a feeling that he/she belongs to something worthwhile.
BE AWARE OF THE PREVIOUSLY DESCRIBED INDICATORS AND ACT QUICKLY WHEN THE INDICATORS ARE SEEN TO PREVENT YOUR CHILD FROM GETTING MORE INVOLVED INTO THE GANG.
If you recognize any suspicious activity that is consistent with the above descriptors relating to "Gang Activity" you can report it to the Police & Community Services Unit by phone at 609-926-4040.