Although is a source for the best gang facts about all types of gangs, some people are still looking to understand the basic knowledge of gangs, like what are gangs, how to know if someone is in a a gang, what do gangs wear, etc. So we have put together this resource page so people know and understand what gangs are and what to do in situations when you come into contact with gangs.

FAQS about Gangs

What are Gangs?

Gangs are organized groups or associations of individuals who engage in criminal activities and have a shared identity or purpose. These groups often form in urban areas, but they can also be found in other settings. Gangs typically have a hierarchical structure with defined roles and rules.

The primary activities of gangs usually revolve around illegal enterprises, such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, extortion, robbery, and various other forms of organized crime. They may also be involved in activities such as prostitution, human trafficking, and money laundering. Gangs use violence, intimidation, and coercion to protect their territory, assert dominance, and defend their criminal operations.

Members of gangs often identify themselves through distinctive clothing, symbols, tattoos, or hand signs to display their allegiance to the group. Gangs may also have specific colors, graffiti, or other markings associated with their presence in a particular area. These visible identifiers help establish their presence and intimidate rival gangs or individuals.

It’s important to note that while some individuals join gangs for social support or a sense of belonging, many factors contribute to their formation, including socioeconomic disadvantages, lack of opportunities, family dysfunction, exposure to violence, and peer pressure. Additionally, gang involvement can perpetuate a cycle of violence, crime, and social instability in affected communities.

Law enforcement agencies, community organizations, and policymakers often work together to combat gang activity through various strategies, including targeted policing, community outreach programs, educational initiatives, and social support services.

What is a Street Gang

A street gang is a specific type of gang that operates primarily in urban or suburban areas, often within neighborhoods or specific territories. Street gangs typically engage in criminal activities, such as drug dealing, robbery, assault, and other forms of organized crime.

Street gangs often form as a result of social, economic, and cultural factors. Members may join gangs seeking protection, a sense of belonging, or economic opportunities that may be lacking in their communities. Gangs can also provide a form of identity and status for individuals who feel marginalized or disconnected from mainstream society.

Street gangs usually have a defined structure and hierarchy, with leaders or “shot-callers” at the top who make decisions and enforce rules. They may also have subgroups or “sets” within the larger gang structure, each with its own leadership and territorial control. Members often display their affiliation through specific clothing styles, tattoos, hand signs, or other symbols.

Territorial control is a significant aspect of street gang activity. Gangs establish and defend their turf, which can lead to conflicts and violent confrontations with rival gangs over control of drug markets or other resources. These territorial disputes often contribute to a cycle of retaliatory violence, posing a significant risk to the safety and well-being of both gang members and the communities they operate in.

Law enforcement agencies employ various strategies to address street gang activity, including targeted policing, intelligence gathering, and community outreach programs. Prevention efforts involve providing at-risk individuals with positive alternatives, such as education, employment opportunities, mentorship, and social support networks, to deter them from joining gangs in the first place.

What is a Prison Gang

A prison gang is a gang that operates within the confines of a correctional facility, such as a prison or jail. Unlike street gangs, prison gangs are formed and exist primarily within the prison system, although they may have connections or affiliations with gangs operating outside of prison as well.

Prison gangs are usually organized groups that have a hierarchical structure, rules, and a specific code of conduct. They provide a sense of identity, protection, and power to their members within the highly controlled and often violent prison environment. Prison gangs may offer support, camaraderie, and resources to their members, including contraband items and protection from other inmates.

These gangs often have strict initiation rituals, codes of loyalty, and internal systems of discipline. Members typically display their gang affiliation through tattoos, symbols, or specific clothing items. They may also have their own language, slang, or hand signs for communication within the prison.

Prison gangs engage in various activities within correctional facilities, including drug trafficking, extortion, gambling, assault, and even ordering hits on other inmates or staff members. They also seek to control and dominate certain areas or units of the prison, which can lead to conflicts with rival gangs.

Prison gangs may continue their criminal activities outside of prison as well, maintaining connections and networks with street gangs or criminal organizations. Upon release, some former prison gang members may remain involved in criminal behavior, further contributing to community crime.

Correctional authorities employ various measures to counter prison gang activity, such as segregation of gang-affiliated inmates, intelligence gathering, and surveillance. They also work to disrupt gang communication and recruitment efforts within the prison. Rehabilitation programs, educational opportunities, and reintegration support are provided to inmates to reduce the likelihood of reoffending or gang involvement upon release.

What are Gang Colors

Gang colors are specific colors or combinations of colors that are associated with particular gangs or gang affiliations. These colors serve as a visual representation of a gang’s identity and are often used by gang members to display their loyalty or association.

The use of gang colors can vary between different gangs and regions. Some gangs may adopt specific colors as part of their overall identity, while others may use certain colors to represent their territory or clique within a larger gang. Gang colors can be displayed through clothing, hats, accessories, bandanas, or other visible items.

It’s important to note that not all gangs have distinct colors, and the use of colors can change over time. Additionally, some gangs may use multiple colors or combinations, while others may use a single color to represent their affiliation. The specific colors associated with gangs can also vary geographically and may overlap with sports team colors or other cultural symbols, which can lead to misconceptions or confusion.

It’s crucial to exercise caution and avoid making assumptions solely based on someone’s clothing color or appearance, as it can be misleading and potentially dangerous. Colors alone do not definitively determine someone’s involvement in a gang.

What are Gang Signs

Gang signs are hand gestures or specific hand movements used by gang members to communicate with each other, assert their affiliation, or convey messages. Gang signs can vary widely depending on the gang and its region. These signs are often used as a form of non-verbal communication within the gang culture.

Gang signs typically involve specific hand configurations, finger positions, or movements that are recognized and understood by members of the gang. They can be used to identify oneself as a member, show respect to fellow gang members, challenge rival gangs, or signal various messages or warnings.

Gang signs can be simple or complex, and they may include specific hand shapes, finger placements, or combinations of movements. They can be displayed as a quick hand gesture or held for an extended period. Some gang signs are well-known and recognized across different regions, while others may be more localized and specific to certain gangs or neighborhoods.

It’s important to note that displaying gang signs can be associated with illegal activities, violence, and criminal behavior. Engaging in or imitating gang signs can lead to misunderstandings, confrontations, or even danger, especially if one is not affiliated with the gang or the local community.

Law enforcement and community organizations often work to educate individuals, particularly youth, about the risks and consequences of gang involvement, including the use of gang signs. Efforts are made to provide alternative paths and positive influences to prevent young individuals from becoming involved in gangs and associated criminal activities.

What percentage of homicides are gang related?

Gang-related homicides tend to concentrate in certain communities or cities with significant gang activity. The available data and statistics can provide some insight, but it’s important to note that reporting and classification methods may differ across jurisdictions.

In the United States, the percentage of homicides classified as gang-related has fluctuated over the years. According to the National Gang Center’s 2012 National Youth Gang Survey Analysis, approximately 13% of all homicides reported to law enforcement agencies in jurisdictions with a population of 100,000 or more were classified as gang-related. However, this percentage can vary significantly depending on the city or region.

It’s worth mentioning that the term “gang-related” can have different interpretations and definitions depending on the context and the criteria used by law enforcement agencies. Some jurisdictions may have stricter criteria for labeling a homicide as gang-related, while others may have broader definitions.

Overall, while gang-related homicides can be a significant concern in specific areas with high gang activity, they do not make up the majority of homicides nationwide. The majority of homicides in most countries are typically unrelated to gangs, involving other factors such as personal disputes, domestic violence, or other criminal activities.

What percentage of crimes are gang related?

The percentage of crimes classified as gang-related can vary significantly depending on the location and the prevalence of gangs in a particular area.

In the United States, the percentage of crimes that are gang-related can vary by city or region. According to the National Gang Center’s 2012 National Youth Gang Survey Analysis, in jurisdictions with a population of 100,000 or more, approximately 16% of violent crimes and 7% of property crimes were reported as gang-related. However, these percentages are not representative of all crimes nationally and may differ in different areas.

It’s important to note that the classification of a crime as gang-related can vary across jurisdictions, and some crimes may have gang involvement that is not officially recognized or reported as such. Additionally, the level of gang-related crimes can change over time due to various factors such as law enforcement efforts, community initiatives, and changes in gang activity.

While gang-related crimes can be a significant concern in specific areas with high gang activity, they do not account for the majority of crimes nationally or in most jurisdictions. The majority of crimes typically involve other factors, such as interpersonal conflicts, substance abuse, or other non-gang-related motivations.

It’s crucial to rely on local law enforcement data and reports to understand the specific dynamics of gang-related crime in a particular area, as the percentages can vary significantly depending on the region and the specific time period.

What are some of the causes of gangs

The causes of gangs are complex and multifaceted, often stemming from a combination of social, economic, and environmental factors. While the specific factors contributing to gang formation can vary across different contexts, some common underlying causes include:

  1. Socioeconomic Disadvantage: Communities facing poverty, limited educational opportunities, high unemployment rates, and inadequate access to social services can create an environment conducive to gang formation. The lack of resources and opportunities can lead individuals to seek alternative means of survival or identity.
  2. Family and Community Influences: Dysfunctional family environments, including neglect, abuse, or the absence of positive role models, can contribute to gang involvement. The presence of gangs within a community and peer pressure can also influence individuals to join gangs for protection, a sense of belonging, or to gain status.
  3. Substance Abuse: Substance abuse, particularly drug addiction, can play a significant role in gang formation. Gangs often control and profit from illegal drug markets, and individuals may join gangs to support their addiction or capitalize on the financial opportunities associated with drug trafficking.
  4. Lack of Education: Limited access to quality education or dropping out of school can increase the likelihood of gang involvement. Education provides opportunities for personal growth, employment, and alternative paths to success. Without education, individuals may turn to gangs as a means of identity or economic survival.
  5. Exposure to Violence: Growing up in violent environments, witnessing or experiencing violence, and living in communities with high crime rates can normalize violence and desensitize individuals to its consequences. This exposure can make joining a gang seem like a means of protection or empowerment.
  6. Peer Pressure and Social Identity: Peer pressure plays a significant role in gang recruitment. The desire for acceptance, belonging, and a sense of identity can lead individuals to join gangs to gain social status and recognition.

It is important to note that while these factors contribute to the formation of gangs, not everyone exposed to these conditions becomes involved in gang activity. Individual circumstances, personal choices, and resilience also play a role in determining gang involvement. Addressing the root causes of gangs requires comprehensive strategies that focus on education, employment opportunities, community development, social support, and crime prevention programs.

Why do people join gangs

People join gangs for various reasons, and it can vary depending on individual circumstances and the specific context. Some common reasons why individuals join gangs include:

  1. Sense of Belonging and Identity: Gangs provide a sense of belonging and acceptance that individuals may not find elsewhere. They offer a community and a support network where individuals feel understood and connected to others who share similar experiences and values. Gang membership can provide a sense of identity and purpose.
  2. Protection and Security: In certain communities plagued by violence or where individuals feel unsafe, joining a gang can be seen as a means of protection. Gangs often offer protection from rival gangs or other threats, providing a sense of security and safety for their members.
  3. Peer Pressure and Influence: Peer pressure plays a significant role in gang recruitment. Friends or acquaintances who are already involved in gangs may pressure or influence others to join. The desire to fit in, gain acceptance, or avoid being targeted by gangs can make individuals susceptible to peer pressure.
  4. Economic Opportunities: For individuals facing limited economic prospects or living in impoverished areas, joining a gang can offer financial opportunities. Gangs are involved in various criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, robbery, or extortion, which can provide a source of income for members.
  5. Lack of Positive Role Models or Support Systems: Growing up in environments with limited positive role models or support systems can leave individuals vulnerable to gang recruitment. The absence of parental guidance, mentors, or positive community influences can make gang involvement more appealing as an alternative source of guidance or support.
  6. Thrill and Excitement: Some individuals may be drawn to the excitement, adrenaline, and power associated with gang activities. Engaging in criminal behavior, participating in territorial disputes, or experiencing a sense of control can be appealing to certain individuals seeking excitement or a way to assert themselves.

It’s important to understand that these motivations are not universal, and individuals may have unique reasons for joining gangs. Additionally, it’s crucial to address the underlying factors that contribute to gang involvement, such as poverty, lack of educational opportunities, community disinvestment, and social disconnection, in order to prevent and mitigate gang recruitment.