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- Being withdrawn from family and long-time friends, disobeying curfews, and a shift in attitude.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.
- Fort Worth PD Gang Section
- FWISD Family Resource Centers
- FRC Northside
- 2011 Prospect Avenue, Fort Worth, TX 76106
- FRC Forest Oak
- 3250 Pecos, Fort Worth, TX 76119
- FRC Riverside
- 1550 Bolton, Fort Worth, TX 76111
- FRC Western Hills
- 8340 Mojave Trail, Fort Worth, TX 76111
- FRC Northside
- MHMR Tarrant County
- 3840 Hulen St., North Tower, Fort Worth, TX 76107
- Main Line: 817-569-4300
- 24-Hr Crisis Line: 817-335-3022
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Deaf & Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline
- 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- Provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
- Your Life Counts
- Texas Youth Helpline
- Call 1-800-989-6884
- Text 512-872-5777
- The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Youth)
- Hotline: 1-866-488-7386
- Text START to 678678