SAFER SCHOOLS NEWS – VOL. 8 – pg 2
Street Gangs in Schools
If these three are present in a student, the chances are very great that he/she is a gang member. The presence of just one or two is common among young people.
Sagging refers to manner of dress. Gangster style is typically wearing lose fitting clothes, pants worn low, and head gear tilted to one side. However, there is more to dress than that. Gangs usually have a common manner of dress that sets them apart from other gangs and the establishment. Look for small things rather than the obvious. A group of students who all have their left shoe untied, for example. Other seemingly trivial dress codes include: one sleeve or pant leg rolled up, an undershirt exposed in a common way, belt buckles worn to one side, similar jewelry, or a special hair do.
Flagging refers to showing the colors. Gangs almost always are associated with a color, emblem or brand name. “Do rags” have received much publicity, but there are other ways of showing the colors. Baseball caps are common flags. The color is important, but the name may have more meaning. Certain brands of shoes are associated with certain gangs. The “Star of David” or a pitch fork are examples of emblems that gang members wear, draw, tattoos or even brand into their skin as a way of showing the colors. The key is to be aware of groups of students displaying the same thing.
Bragging is just that. Gang members may live behind a cloak of secrecy but they are very proud of who they are. They will always speak in favorable terms of their own gang while “dissin'” (disrespecting) other gangs. There is a code of honor among gangs that is akin to religion when it comes to denying their own. When confronted with a direct question such as, “Are you a “—-“, they will not deny it if that is their gang.
Again, it is important to remember that these three, sagging, flagging and bragging should all be present before assuming that a student is a gang member. Avoid labels, especially unfounded ones.
The most common question among school officials, “Why do they want to be in a gang?” provides insight into interventions. In numerous surveys, gang members have given many reasons for belonging. However, three repeatedly show up as the most important.
- They are To be loved,
- To have a sense of belonging, and
These responses provide insight into interventions needed…