CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As a parent, you protect your kids by teaching them safety rules, checking on their friends, and keeping tabs on their activities.
Gangs know this to so they have a new recruiting tool to get around you and directly to your kids. It is the internet.
One example of how glorified gang life is can be seen on YouTube.com. Lil Slim's "Getting $" music video, which glorifies gang activities, has over 30,000 views.
If your child has been targeted, chances are you would not even know, because 41% of kids say they do not share with their parents what they are doing on the internet.
Think you know how Gangs target their new recruits? Test your knowledge with Cyber Expert Theresa Payton's 5 Questions:
1) Q: What are the colors worn by the MS-13 gang?
Answer: Blue and White
2) Q: Gang Identifiers Include which of the following:
a) Wearing a specific color or colors regularly
b) 5-Pointed Star
c) Star of David
d) Playboy bunny
e) None of the Above
f) All of the above
Answer: All of the above
3) True or False: If you see someone wearing Charlotte Hornets gear they might be a member of a gang.
True. Don't jump to conclusions that everyone that wears Charlotte Hornets gear is a gang member but this logo is popular with the Spanish Cobras and the 4 Corner Hustlers.
4) True or False: If you see a cap that looks like a NY Yankee's cap but the tail of the Y is off so it looks like VN instead of NY, that's just a kid having fun.
Most likely False. This is what the LA gang called Van Nuys is doing to mark their members. You can see this NY Yankee-like symbol touted on Facebook and YouTube. You may seen this worn by a gang member or a wannabe.
5) True or False: Your kid would not go to gang music sites to download songs.
Could be True or False. You should check. Kids are downloading gang songs from places such as 818 Gangland Musik Page for free.
GANGS HAVE NEW RECRUITING TOOLS:
Why worry?: Social networking via the internet is the new recruiting tool for MS-13 and other gangs and they ARE targeting your kids.
The Hook: Young people that are surfing online may come across pictures, music, or videos about gangs. Of course kids are curious so they click and see something that glorifies gang life…That's when a gang member may strike up a chat with them online and try to lure them into their club.
Think this is an overplayed issue? Here are some startling statistics from a recent survey:
70% of gang members say it is easier to make friends online
89% of kids say they are the major user of technology at their house
41% of kids say they do not share with their parents what they are doing on the internet
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CHILD:
TALK: Talk with your child about the places they visit while online. Look at some of the gang propaganda together and talk about why it is false or glorified.
TEACH: Keep your home PC in a central location so you can keep an eye on what they search. Teach your kids that where they go online is just as important as the rules you have for them offline.
TELL: Be familiar with what your local gangs wear, such as certain colors, jewelry, or logos, to show they are a member. Tell your kids not to dress like gang wannabes so they will not be targeted while at school or play.
APPEARANCE: Your kid's clothing preferences change dramatically. Your kid suddenly insists on wearing a specific color or a logo. A new tattoo, permanent or henna. Unexplained injuries. Begins using gang slang.
SOCIAL: Starts withdrawing from school, family, and possibly even their friends. Talks about gang life in an idolized way.
INTERESTS: Gang music or gang insignias on their phones and music lists. Likes to watch gang related movies.
Word for the Week: Cyber Banging
Also called Net Banging - This refers to the internet recruiting process that gangs use to target kids. Gangs typically target high school and middle school kids but there are cases where kids as young as 8 have been recruited.
FBI Gang Threat Site: http://www.fbi.gov/page2/feb09/ngta_020609.html
Department of Justice – Community Services: www.cops.usdoj.gov
Violence Prevention Institute: http://www.violencepreventioninstitute.org/youngpeople.html
National Youth Gang Prevention Center: http://ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/pubs/gun_violence/sect08-f.html
NC Gang Awareness:
Parents Universal Resource Experts (PURE™):
Parent Advocate Sue Scheff on Avoiding the Gangs:
Organization focused on consumer safety, security, and privacy:
Dr. Michele Borba, Child Expert Talks About Kids and Conflict:
Mary Kay Hoal, Internet Safety Expert, Offers Advice About Social Networks and Gang Exposure:
Social Networks and Your Kids – The Risks from SchooGo: