When a child is influenced by others before their family then the problem is not starting with the gangs. Gangs exist as "families" within a culture. There are gangs of affluent kids, and teenagers, and gangs of inner city youth. Gangs are specific to a particular subject, whether it be race, neighborhood, or a common enemy.
Not all gangs are bad. A gang is a group of people with a common cause. The Boy Scouts of American can be considered a gang, but it is not bad. This article is addressing negative and destructive gangs, and how to keep your children from being drawn into them.
The first way to keep your children away from gangs is to educate them. If a young child is taught what destructive gangs are and what they do, then that information, given during their formidable years, can help to shape their decisions, more likely directing the child away from such activity.
Another method of keeping your child away from gangs, if resources allows, is to keep a watchful eye over your child when going to and from school, as well as during their off-hours from school. Idle children will be free to find things to do on their own, and gangs can enticing. If a parent or guardian can be an integral part of the lives of the youth then they will not have the opportunity to join a gang, and will also likely not wish to be in a gang.
Gangs use their influence and attention to gain new participants. When a child feels that they are not getting the nurturing attention they crave from home they will seek it elsewhere. Keeping a watchful eye on a child is only half the battle. One must also give them positive reasons to not join a gang. Love doesn't cost anything, but honesty needs to be included in their lives. Gangs have nothing to lose in their minds so they have no reason to lie to anyone. This absolute honesty draws innocence and the attention deprived child in with hardly any problems.
Money is another large draw. Negative gangs are very prolific. They use criminal activity such as robbery, burglary, and selling drugs to bring in large amounts of money. Children see gang members wearing their gold jewelry and fancy clothes, as well as driving fancy cars, or if younger, riding on very expensive bicycles. If a child is underprivileged, then they are likely to consider the quick dollar that comes with gang involvement. One method of overcoming this is to teach good moral values and that personal value is better than monetary value. This kind of education needs to start at a very young age, maybe two to three years old. A child can understand money and they can understand what is more valuable than it, if the parents and guardians can all maintain consistency. Fighting over the lack of money between parents will send a message to the child that money is important. The richest people on Earth do not possess the most expensive items, they possess good health, good friends, and loving family.
Parents are only one step in the educational process. Schools need to also begin teaching children at a very young age, around 8 to 9 years old, to know what gangs are and what they are capable of. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and when all positive role models can conspire against the gangs in trying to help children make the right decisions, then they will more likely avoid the negative situations that may lead them toward the life of a gang member.