During the teen years, kids seek new friendships and look for ways to fit in with their peers. They crave validation from their friends, and they want to feel valued. Teens want to know that they play an essential role in their friend group, and they’d like to get a sense of power from their actions. Teens need acceptance and validation from their peers.
Some kids find positive peer groups through teams and clubs. They might make friends at school, in the neighborhood, or through extracurricular activities. As the parent of a teenager, you need to know who your kid is spending time with and what they are up to.
If your teen is involved with the wrong crowd and joined a gang, you’ve got serious trouble on your hands. Teen gang members regularly participate in violent and illegal activities. They tend to get in trouble at school and in the streets. Sometimes, that trouble can result in danger and long-term consequences.
It can be tough to convince teenagers that they should separate from their friend group, even if those friends are bad for them. These teens can benefit from attending a boarding school for troubled boys.
While at school, they are separated from gang life and don’t get to participate in those dangerous activities. Instead, they attend academic classes to get their grades on track, and they participate in life skills training that they can use when they return home. Students also receive therapeutic intervention and learn positive ways to build connections without gang involvement.
Helping your teen leave a gang
If your teen wants to leave the gang but doesn’t know how, there are some things you can do to help him. It will still be tough for him to leave the gang even if he wants to, so he will need your support throughout the process.
Encourage a positive self-image
Teens who have been involved with gangs have typically done things that they aren’t proud of. Your teen might feel ashamed of some of his behavior and have a negative view of himself.
Help him develop a positive self-image to see the possibility of growth. Rather than focusing on the negative things that he’s done in the past, help him focus on the positive things he can do in the future.
Find new activities
As your teen starts to leave his gang, he’ll need to find some new activities. Remember, teens need validation and acceptance from their peers, and they want to feel valued. That’s probably why he joined the gang in the first place.
If he doesn’t find new activities and make new friends, he might be tempted to go back to the gang.
Change old habits
As a gang member, your teen has probably developed certain habits that he needs to break. Maybe he needs to change his everyday language, attire, or activities. Even if they aren’t doing it on purpose, gang members tend to assimilate to the trends within the gang.
As your teen leaves the gang, he needs to purposefully examine his habits and change those that align with the gang.
Leaving a gang can be challenging. Your teen will likely have to face his old gang friends at some point, and they will probably pressure him to return. It might be tempting to cave in and join the gang again.
Your teen needs to know that he has your support and the support of other adults he respects. If he knows that people believe in him and help him be strong, he’s more likely to say no to his old friends and keep the course.
If your teen’s gang-related behavior is out of control, you need to intervene immediately. Violent and illegal behavior during his teen years can have repercussions for the rest of his life. At Sundance Canyon Academy, we regularly speak to parents worried about their kids and want the best for them. Contact us at 866-224-2733 to see if our school could help your son break free of gang activity.