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The Teen Years

Gangs

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Helpful Tips for Parents

Parents need to know what to do to counteract the activity of gangs on their children. Think carefully about what the experts tell us why kids join gangs. The solutions become clear.

Spend special time with your child at least once a week, if not daily. Keep this time as the most important thing you do.

Be aware of the difference between discipline (caring correction) and vengeance (lashing out or being angry). Always leave the door open for future conversations.

Be careful about jumping to conclusions. Your perceptions will most likely not be the same perceptions held by your child. Through discussions and exchange of ideas, learn what your child is thinking. Always check. Never assume!

Create meaningful roles within your family for each child. A child, and each of us as well, needs to feel needed and valued. Reinforce the value of each person often.

Talk together in clear terms about what is important in your family. Your family values and practices can be discussed and demonstrated in many ways. Create ways for your children to demonstrate the important values of your family.

Praise each member of your family. Look for successes and seek opportunities for each family member to be successful. Celebrate these successes with notes, positive comments, or even a special meal.

Get everyone in your extended family involved. Think about who this extended family might be: family, neighbors, community members, schools personnel, law enforcement, and church leaders. Children should know all of these people. Each of these people can help you by being a friend and helper to your child.

Your child has many friends—be sure you know them, too. Feel free to learn details about all the friends and their parents. Know as much about where they go and what they do as possible. It is your job to know.

Continue to learn more about parenting by reading, going to parent support groups, and interacting with youth workers. Ask hard questions. Know where you can turn to for extra help.

Learn about issues facing youth. Ask your child and his or her friends to share concerns about current tough issues. Together find alternatives that are workable.

Allow you and your child to make mistakes. Learn together how to best cope with problems and errors.

Adapted from: D. Bond, D. Drain & S. Simonson, for Family Information Services, Minneapolis, MN © July, 1994. Reprinted with permission.

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