Gang Activity

Gangs can be defined in many different ways. In the state of Texas, a criminal street gang is defined as “three or more persons having a common identifying sign or symbol or an identifiable leadership who continuously or regularly associate in the commission of criminal activities.”

Those who are involved in gangs and gang-related activity usually do not join the gang simply because they want to commit criminal acts. Most often, individuals join gangs for protection, enjoyment, respect, money, or because a friend is in a gang. Individuals at the highest risk of joining a gang usually have unstable living conditions, have problems at school, live in unsafe households, witness violence from a young age, and/or live in communities where they feel unsafe. Some of the best strategies for preventing gang activity include building a community’s ability to strengthen schools and families by meeting their needs; improving community supervision; and teaching students positive interpersonal skills.

You can help keep your community safe and help prevent someone from becoming involved in a gang by using Friends for Life to submit an anonymous report.

Did You Know?

  • About 35-40% of gang membership is made up of individuals under the age of 18.
  • One study found that 15 years old is the average age at which someone joins a gang.
  • Over 90% of gang members are male.
  • In the North Texas region, a majority (71%) of gang arrests are for assault with robbery coming in second (22%).

Common Signs of Gang Involvement:

  • Unexplained money, jewelry, clothing, or other expensive material items.
  • Wearing clothing that usually involves the same color, type, or style, etc.
  • Changing appearance especially with body markings or tattoos.
  • Unusual or unknown hand signs or words/slang being used.
  • Being withdrawn from family and long-time friends, disobeying curfews, and a shift in attitude.
  • Using/possessing a firearm or drugs.

Consequences of Joining a Gang:

  • Those who joined a gang in adolescence were nearly three times more likely to report committing a crime.
  • Those who joined a gang in adolescence were more than three times more likely to receive income from illegal sources.
  • Those who joined a gang in adolescence more than twice as likely to have been incarcerated in the previous year.
  • Former gang members are nearly three times more likely to have drug-abuse issues.
  • Former gang members are almost twice as likely to say they are in poor health.
  • Former gang members are twice as likely to be receiving public assistance.
  • Gang members are also half as likely to graduate from high school.

Preventing Gang Involvement:

  • The Comprehensive Gang Model is an effective, research-based model for preventing youth/adolescent gang involvement. Th model is made of five core strategies:
    • Community mobilization - coordination of programs and staff functions within and across agencies that include local citizens especially former gang-involved individuals, community groups and agencies.
    • Opportunities provision - increasing the options for a variety of specific education, training, and employment programs targeting gang-involved or at-risk youth.
    • Social intervention - a coordinated “reaching out” by the community to gang-involved youth and their families by youth-serving agencies, schools, faith-based organizations, police, and other grassroot groups.
    • Suppression - involving formal and informal social procedures focused on control and supervision by agencies of the justice system school, and community-based agencies.
    • Organizational change and development - the creation and use of policies/procedures that result in effective use of available community resources in a comprehensive manner to best address the gang problem.
  • For more on the Comprehensive Gang Model please click here.
  • Submit an anonymous tip to Friends for Life on known or suspected gang activity.