Santa Cruz County Gangs
What to Look For
Signs That Youth May Be Gang Involved
- Shows a lack of interest in school or school related activities.
- Has poor attendance and grades begin to drop.
- Has a new group of friends. Stops hanging out with old friends.
- Is secretive about where he/she has been or with whom they are spending time.
- Desires a lot of privacy.
- Refuses to take part in family activities.
- No longer participates in activities that he/she once enjoyed.
- Spends a lot of time away from home.
- Is more argumentative or defiant. Dislikes people in positions of authority (parents, teachers, administrators.)
- Adopts a different or distinct style of dress. Wears a lot of one color or refuses to wear a specific color (red or blue).
- Wears only black, white or grey.
- Wears sports logos on hats or sweatshirts but can’t name one player on the team.
- Calls friends by nicknames.
- Uses derogatory terms like “scrap” or “buster” to describe perceived rival gang members.
- Has graffiti-like artwork on notebooks or folders.
- Listens to gangster rap, or watches movies that glorify gangs and violence.
- Is secretive about Facebook accounts, text and email messages.
- Uses hand-signs with friends.
- Has unexplained bruises or injuries. (Bruises or injuries may occur in the process of getting jumped in or in a fight with a rival gang member.)
- Has unexplained sources of cash or property (cell phones, bike, wallet, etc.) These may have been given to him by recruiting gang members or they may have been stolen.
- Has gang tattoos.
It is important to remember that youth may be showing these signs of involvement due to other reasons, such as depression or drug and alcohol use. As parents, teachers or community members, we need to look for a pattern of changing behaviors and a shift in attitude.
More information: Gang Clothing & Accessories