Ex-cop Cam Stokes knows gangs. His explosive novel takes you inside an outlaw motorcycle gang, the Devils M.C.

Gang prospect Rotten craves respect and power. He wants his patch so badly he'll do anything for it. But before he's accepted, Rotten must prove himself to the gang.

Rotten's got problems. The cops are on his tail. He's struggling to control his violent temper, and his growing reliance on P is threatening to ruin everything.

And all this is happening, here, now.

The Devils Are Here was released in September 2008 and spent four weeks in the top five for New Zealand fiction.

To buy a copy send $25.00 (includes postage) to
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ADVICE FOR PARENTS

INTRODUCTION

Although this website is about patch-wearing gangs, I've included this section is to help parents and caregivers keep children safe from youth-gangs.

Membership of youth-gangs is often fleeting and members come and go, as do the gangs themselves. Some patch-wearing gangs organise their younger supporters into youth-gangs (such as the Black Power with the Crips, the Mongrel Mob with the Bloods and the Tribesmen with the Killer Beez) however many youth-gangs are independent.

Keeping young people away from gangs requires a lot of hard work but it’s worth it. The gang lifestyle is incredibly destructive to the gang member, their families and to the wider community. Joining a gang greatly increases the chance of your child becoming involved in crime, violence and drugs. Gang membership severely harms a young person's future and often leads to jail.

It's not only gang membership which can be dangerous. Being an associate of a gang can result in increased exposure to drugs and crime. Gangs often use their associates or supporters to do their "dirty work" or to take the blame for gang members.

Knowing how gangs operate and recognising signs of gang involvement will help you act quickly and correctly if your child shows signs of at-risk behaviour. The quicker you act, the greater the chance of success.

This section is in four parts...

  1. Keeping kids away from gangs.
  2. Signs of gang membership.
  3. What to do if your child is in a gang.
  4. Further information.

If you’re worried about your child’s gang involvement contact your local Police Youth Aid Section. The Police will help you or refer you to an appropriate agency.  

I’m not an expert on youth-gangs and I welcome any feedback to improve this section. Feel free to email me any suggestions.

KEEPING KIDS AWAY FROM GANGS

The more you get involved with your children, their friends and their activities, the less chance there is of them becoming involved with gangs. The following things may help you keep your children safe...

  • Know...
    • Where your child is.
    • What they are doing.
    • Who they are with.

  • Know who your child’s friends are and where they “hang out’ especially after school. Meet the parents of your children’s friends. Know where they live and their contact telephone numbers.

  • Encourage your child to hang out with kids who aren’t, and don’t want to be, involved with gangs. If your children hang around with people who are involved with gangs it greatly increases the chances that they will become involved as well. If they are hanging around with kids who are a bad influence, help them make new friends.

  • Speak with your children about what to expect from gangs. Explain how dangerous gangs are. Talk about the possible consequences of gang membership. Let them know that you disapprove of gangs and that you don’t want to see you them hurt or arrested or sent to prison. Make sure children know the possible consequences of engaging in criminal activities.

  • Explain to your child why they should not.....
    • Associate with gang members or gang associates.

    • Use gang graffiti, hand signals and jargon.

    • Wear gang-style clothing or specific colours which have meaning to gangs in your area.
  • Talk to your child about drugs. Kids whose parents talk to them about drugs are less likely to begin using them. If your child is taking drugs, let them know you are concerned about them and seek help if you need it.

  • Keep an eye on what your child is viewing on the net. Many gangs have websites and some gang members have profiles on internet networking websites such as Myspace or Bebo.

  • Spend as much quality time with your children as possible. Be a positive role model and set a good example.

  • Help children be socially and physically active and healthy. Help them gain positive experiences, new skills and healthy friendships.

  • Develop good communication. Talk with and listen to your children and their friends.  Make them feel comfortable talking about any topic or problem.

  • Build children’s self esteem so they don’t look other places for acceptance. Let your kids know you love them. Tell them positive things and listen to what they have to say. Children with a strong family connection are less likely to look for support and a sense of belonging from gangs.

  • Establish rules, set limits and be consistent, firm and fair. Expect your child to follow your rules. Teach good values, including respect and responsibility. Teach them that actions have consequences, and that they should always have respect for others. Hold your child answerable for their behaviour.

  • Help your kids to identify positive role models and heroes-especially people in your community. Positive role models can include parents, teachers, advisors or other trusted adults who care about your child.

  • Encourage good study habits. Teach them that success requires hard work. Praise your child’s efforts and achievements. Encourage children to stay in school as this is one of the best ways to keep them away from gangs and crime.

  • Occupy your children’s free time. Encourage your children to get involved in after-school activities with proper adult supervision. Try and develop positive alternatives.

  • Don’t allow your children to stay out late and spend a lot of unsupervised time on the streets.

  • Teach your child to cope with peer pressure and how to deal with conflicts without violence. Try to problem-solve with children, not for them. Encourage them to think for themselves.

  • Watch closely for negative influences.

  • Talk to someone you trust about your child’s situation. 

  • Seek professional help if you need it. Don't be afraid to seek help for yourself, as well as for your kids. It's not easy being a parent but help is available which may help you improve your parenting skills.

SIGNS OF GANG MEMBERSHIP

Joining a gang is usually a gradual process and there are many signs which may indicate that your child is becoming involved. Some of the signs are similar to “normal” adolescent behaviour, so it’s important to question the behaviour if it seems unusual. Ask questions and expect answers.

Signs of gang involvement may include...

  • Hanging out with gang members or gang associates.

  • Changing friends.  New friends are rarely introduced and seldom come to your house.

  • Wearing a particular style of clothing, including one or two specific colours or a particular logo or symbol. (This may include wearing bandanas or shoelaces of a certain colour.)  

  • Tattoos. These may include the symbol of the gang or its name or initials.

  • Possession of gang-related photographs, including gang insignia, hand signals and people taking part in gang activities. 

  • Displaying a pro-gang attitude including strong interest in gang websites, movies and music.

  • Writing gang graffiti on possessions or property.

  • Speaking like a gangster, using gang slang or hand signals.

  • Frequently talking about other people who seem to have considerable influence over them.

  • Using a new nickname.

  • Unexplained jewellery. It’s common for many gang members to wear lots of jewellery to flash their wealth.

  • Unexplained cash or your child may ask for money more frequently or steal money.

  • Unexplained injuries.

  • Dropping hobbies, sports or after school activities or quitting school or employment.

  • Negative behaviour, such as...
    • Rule breaking and disciplinary problems at home and/or school.

    • Getting into trouble with the Police.

    • Withdrawing from normal family activities.

    • Declining school attendance and performance.

    • Increased unexplained absence from home, including staying out late, all night or for days at a time.

    • Drug and/or alcohol use.

    • Possession of weapons.

    • Bullying or assaulting others.

    • Obsessive secrecy.

    • Unusual moods or behaviour.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS IN A GANG

For some young people youth-gangs are a passing phase. For others, they are the start of a life-long involvement in crime. If you find out that your child is involved in a gang, the following things may help...

Find out the facts first. Learn about gangs and how they operate. Talk to someone who has experience with gangs or speak with someone you trust who can help you.  

Choose a quiet time to speak with your child. Stay as calm as possible and share your worries honestly.

Listen to the child. Ask lots of questions about their gang involvement including why they joined. Ask questions rather than making accusations. Try to understand the situation from their point of view. Ask what you can do to help.

Work with them to try and find alternatives.  Try and come to an agreement about what they should do next, rather than issuing instructions or ultimatums. Reaffirm the rules that your child must follow. If you uncover an action or activity that your child assures you won’t be repeated, treat it the same way you would treat a family rule being broken.

Try and maintain a relationship where you are able to communicate again in the future, regardless of how much you don't like what your child is doing.

Explain why you are against gangs. Point out the dangers of gang involvement. Being in a gang puts your child in greater risk of offending, using and selling drugs, being involved in violence (as a victim or as an offender) and of ending up in jail. Some people think that joining a gang will increase the amount of friends they have but the reality is that joining a gang will increase the amount of enemies they have.

Encourage your child to leave the gang. This may not be easy however there are usually far fewer barriers to leaving a youth-gang, than an established adult gang like the Black Power or the Mongrel Mob.

If other children are involved, talk with their families and let them know what is going on. Speak with your child’s teacher, so that they are aware of what is happening. They may be able to monitor your child’s behaviour at school and offer them advice and positive alternatives.

Help your child find someone they trust and respect to talk to about their feelings, thoughts and questions.

Don’t be afraid to seek outside help...

  • Seek professional advice.

    • Contact the Police Youth Aid Section.

    • See the yellow pages under Addiction Services, Community Services or Counselling Services.

    • Speak with a school counsellor, local community organisations, youth group or youth services or someone from your local Church.        
  • Phone a help line. Call...

    • The Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797.

    • Lifeline.

    • Citizens Advice.

    • Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS).

FURTHER INFORMATION

The information in this section comes from a range of sources including...

These links have plenty of information about young people and gangs and are well worth a visit.

 

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