FAQ's About Gangs


The answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about gangs may be found here.  If your question is not answered here, please search the main site pages  where most information about gangs may be found.

Click the links below to be learn the answer to each question.

  1. What is the definition of a gang?
  2. How can I tell if my child is in a gang?
  3. What can I do if I think my child has joined a gang or is about to join a gang? What if I think he has been threatened in order to get him to join?
  4. Don't most gang members come from poor neighborhoods in large cities?
  5. What is a gang related criminal act?
  6. What are the behaviors associated with joining a gang?
  7. What is a hybrid gang?
  8. What is the danger of wearing gang clothing, colors, or tattoos?
  9. What states have gang laws?
  10. What should I do if I suspect gang activity in my neighborhood?

    Frequently Asked Questions About this web site.

          Assistance That We Can OR Can Not Provide

What is the definition of a gang?

There is no national standard for the definition of a gang.  Many states have passed legislation that defines gangs and gang activity in those particular states.  Click here to see if your state has passed legislation defining what a gang is.

Click here to proceed directly to the Gangs OR Us "Definition Page."

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How can I tell if my child is in a gang?

First, you might ask the child if he or she is involved with a gang.    Know who your child's friends are.  Does he or she know their real name or only a nick name?  Does your child wear the same type of clothing and the same colors all the time?  Look for unusual signs and symbols on school books, back packs, or other areas that the child frequents.   

Look at the following pages on my web site: Gang Identifiers, Street Gangs, Parents/Teachers and Law Enforcement. On these pages, you will find more than enough information for you to determine any possible membership or affiliation with gangs.

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What can I do if I think my child has joined a gang or is about to join a gang?  What if I think he has been threatened in order to get him to join?

Contact your local law enforcement; or contact the child's School Resource Officer and ask them to meet with you and the child. 

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Don't most gang members come from  poor neighborhoods in large cities?

This is no longer true.  Gangs now come from all socio-economic levels, from all ethnicities and from communities, large and small

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What is a gang related criminal act?

Generally, it is a gang related crime when:

  1. The suspect is a gang member or associate,
  2. The crime furthers the motives of the gang,
  3. The crime benefits the gang financially, through enhancement of its reputation or was committed for revenge.
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What are the behaviors associated with joining a  gang?

The early adolescent years (12-14 years of age and sometimes younger) are a crucial time when youths are exposed to gangs.  It is at this time that the youth may consider joining a gang.

Youths who are involved (or becoming involved) may exhibit the following behaviors:

  1. Unusual  interest in one or more particular colors, articles of clothing or a logo.
  2. Sudden interest in gang-influenced music, videos and movies.
  3. Use and practice of hand signals to communicate with friends
  4. Peculiar drawings or gang symbols on schoolbooks, clothing, notebooks, or walls.
  5. Drastic change in hair or dress style and/or having a group of friends who have the same hair or dress style.

Other negative changes or warning signs may be:

  1. Withdrawal from family
  2. Declining school attendance (truancy) or academic performance
  3. Staying out late without reason
  4. Unusual desire for secrecy
  5. Confrontational behavior (back talk, name calling, sudden departure from home)
  6. Sudden negative opinions about law enforcement or other positions of authority such as  teachers or other school officials.
  7. Withdrawal from longtime friends and forming bonds with an entirely new group of friends.
  8. Non-accidental physical injuries, such as being beaten or injuries to hands and knuckles from fighting.
  9. Unexplained  cash, clothing , jewelry or other goods.
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What is a hybrid gang?

New gangs are formed almost daily throughout the country. Although many of these gangs call themselves the same names of the older, traditional gangs, such as Crips, Bloods, Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings or one of the many other well known gangs, they are in no way, representative of the original gang. These gangs are known as hybrid or copycat gangs.

While the predecessor gang may have been formed along race, ethnicity and cultural lines, the hybrid gang is usually a mixture of races and ethnicities. They may use colors from several gangs and may even use the colors of rival gangs.
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What is the danger of wearing gang clothing, colors, or tattoos?

Dressing and/or acting like a gang banger is extremely dangerous to those who do it because they think it is cool.  By doing so, a non-gang member, who is wearing gang colors may become a target by those who are a rival gang member.  There are many documented cases of innocent persons who, because of the colors of clothing they were wearing, have been assaulted and murdered by gang members because the gang member thought the individual was a rival gang member.

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Which states have gang laws?

To see if your state has passed gang legislation CLICK HERE to see the list of states on my Gangs OR Us State Gang Laws page.

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What should I do if I suspect gang activity in my neighborhood?

Gangs are dangerous!!  Often, in communities where the gangs are relatively new or almost unknown, the citizens will think there is nothing to worry about.   Gangs commit crimes against persons and property.  If you see or suspect gang activity, do not confront the gang members.  Contact your local law enforcement and report your observations to them.  Usually, this can be done ANONYMOUSLY.

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Frequently Asked Questions About This Web Site

Gangs OR Us receives numerous email messages requesting information, answers to questions, materials, and a variety of other subjects. Most of the time the information being sought is on the web site and too often the individual did not take time to search the pages. The following are questions and answers that hopefully will be of assistance to you.

Question: Can you send me information on gangs?
Answer: Believe it or not this question is very frequently asked. The individual has found Gangs OR Us and the Email address but has not taken the time to look for information on the site. Most of the important information may be found on the following pages: Gang Identifiers, Gangs, Law Enforcement, or Parents and Teachers.
Question: I need information about gangs for my research/school/college project. Can Gangs OR us send me gang-related information?
Answer: No! Gangs OR Us has become so popular that I receive 10 to 15 requests for free research or information each day. Gangs OR Us is a privately-owned business and generally, there is a minimum fee for information that requires me to conduct research or to otherwise provide assistance.
Question: What information from Gangs OR Us can I use for my school project or research paper?
Answer: You may use anything that will assist you in completing your project. I do request that you give credit to Gangs OR Us if the material is written by me and is used as a reference resource.
Question: Can you provide statistics on the number of gangs and the gang members in the U.S.?
Answer: Like the names of gangs in each city, I do not keep statistics on the numbers of gangs or gang members. Surveys are taken from time to time, usually by an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, but it frequently takes a year or more before the figures are compiled, evaluated and released. By this time the figures are outdated and less than accurate.
Question: Can you provide my organization with a packet of gang identification information and other materials?
Answer: No. As a private consultant, it is not financially practical for me to bear the cost of printed material for distribution.
Question: I have been tasked with setting up a gang identification unit within my department/agency. Can you help with any information?
Answer:  Click on my Gang Unit page.  At the  bottom of the page you will find a link to Creating A Gang Unit.
Question: I am interested in attending a gang identification training class. Can you tell me where these classes are held?
Answer: As stated above, I offer training classes upon request. In addition, many states have an organization commonly called Gang Investigators Associations. There is a list of these organizations on the Law Enforcement page of my web site. Most of these organizations have an annual training conference and many will provide training to your agency or school district.
Question: Are you available for speaking engagements and presentations?
Answer: Yes. Please contact me by email, outlining your requirements.
Question: The police department in my community will not do anything about the gangs in my neighborhood. Can you help?
Answer: The concerned citizens and the individual police departments must work together to resolve the community's gang problem. I cannot become involved in the law enforcement policies of a department. One solution is for the citizens to form a community group, and as a group, present your problem to the Chief of Police, the Sheriff, or the city council.
Question: Can you tell me what gangs are in my community?
Answer: there are too many gangs in the United States for an individual to track or monitor. There is a page on Gangs OR Us that is titled, "Gangs in the U.S.". On this page, many of the major gangs of each state are listed. This is by no means an all-inclusive list. To learn about gangs in your community, you should contact your local law enforcement agency. Furthermore, just because you are aware of a gang in your area, do not ask me to add the gang to the list.
Question: I am the producer of a popular television talk show. Can you locate gang members and/or victims of gang members who would be willing to appear on our show?
Answer: NO! Gangs OR Us does not provide this type of assistance.
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Revised: 03/21/13.


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