New York State Police

Crime Prevention:
The Reality of Gangs

What’s the Deal With Gangs?

Gangs are neither just a big city or inner city problem, nor are they a problem of a particular race or culture. Gangs cross all ethnic, racial, socioeconomic, gender, and geographic boundaries. They bring fear and violence to neighborhoods, traffic in drugs, destroy property, involve youth in crime, and drive out businesses. Gangs pull teens away from school and home into a life of violence.

One of the scariest aspects of gang violence is it’s often indiscriminate and unpredictable. Gang members have been known to kick, punch, hit, or even kill their victims. People get hurt if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. If gangs or gang members are in your school or neighborhood, you know it.

Learn About Gangs

Why Do Young People Join Gangs?

What causes some teens to join gangs? Among the most common reasons are to:

For some it is even a family tradition.

None of these reasons are good reasons to belong to a gang. Most of the other kids who don’t belong to a gang will be afraid of you and won’t hang out with you. If you think you will be safer joining a gang, you’re wrong. Most likely, you will increase your chances of being injured or killed. Think you’ll be rich? Not likely. Over a lifetime, gang members make far less money than those who are not in gangs. And by joining you usually don’t end up with a good education, making it hard to find a good job

Join a Gang?

Joining a gang is like entering enemy territory. a gang has a warlike existence where beatings and shootings happen all the time. Typical scenarios of joining a gang involve violence and rape.

If you break the rules after joining a gang, your punishment may be death.

What Does the Future Hold

Gang membership can severely hurt one’s health and future.

Once you are in a gang, it's not easy getting out. You may risk your life if you leave a gang.

Take Action

Start showing gangs you have zero tolerance for their activities. You can