Gangs are going after younger and younger recruits, mostly in the juvenile detention centers, but also right in our schools.
Albemarle County Police showed us a gang t-shirt they pulled from a middle school student. We were also shown pictures of notebooks and lockers with gang graffiti from many different area schools.
This inmate who we were told is a Charlottesville street gang member but denied being on camera, says kids have nothing better to do.
"Kids don't have opportunities. I didn't have the opportunities," said a prisoner at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.
Local law enforcement groups are putting together a program to teach school officials and parents the warning signs to look for.
"We want to make sure we teach school officials and parents what may be out there before we start this next school year," said Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo.
"This is a partnership. We have to work together with the community, especially those working with kids," said Albemarle County Police Chief John Miller.
Here are some warning signs that your child may be involved in gangs:
(1) Admits to hanging out with kids in gangs
(2) Shows an unusual interest in gang colors and clothing
(3) Has an unusual interest in gang music and movies
(4) Has drawings of gang symbols or tattoos
(5) Has unexplained cash or goods
"Talking to your kids is one of the best ways to prevent gang involvement," said Chief Longo.
Some other ways to prevent gang involvement include:
(1) Spend quality time with your child
(2) Get involved in your child's school activities
(3) Know your child's friends and their families
(4) Get your child to participate in positive after school activities
(5) And talk to your child about the dangers of gangs
For a complete list of after school activities and programs you can get your kids involved in, call the Charlottesville/Albemarle Commission on Children and Families at 434-872-4545.
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