BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The FBI report MS-13 gangs continue to grow their memberships by targeting younger recruits more than ever before.
Hundreds of MS-13 gang members are currently active in Maryland. The gang is known for its brutality; using machetes to behead vulnerable, young victims.READ MORE: Police Searching For Teen Missing From Baltimore Since June 2020
- MS-13 In Maryland | Gang Known For Its Brutality Targeting, Recruiting In Baltimore, Anne Arundel County
- How Residents, Victims Of MS-13 Gang Violence Can Report Tips Anonymously
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) says parents play an important role in keeping young people out of gangs.
The OJJDP said, oftentimes, youth get pulled into a gang because they think they might gain status, or think it is a good way to show family, neighborhood or cultural pride.READ MORE: Maryland Panel OKs Funds For Capital Gazette Shooting Victims' Memorial
Other times youth get pushed into a gang because they are afraid for their safety and think a gang will provide protection from neighborhood crime and violence.
They also are pressured by the gang to join.
The OJJDP is offering the following information to parents about gangs:
- Between the ages of 12 and 14, youth are exposed to gangs and may consider joining
- The most common time youth join a gang is around the age of 15
- Parents should pay attention to small changes in behavior
The OJJDP says parents should look for common gang identifiers:MORE NEWS: NFL Releases Ravens Offseason Workout, Camp Schedules
- Colors: Many gangs still use one or more colors to represent themselves
- Symbols & Numbers: Symbols and numbers have special significance within gang culture
- Clothing & Apparel: Youth may dress a specific way to identify with a particular gang
- Graffiti: Gangs use graffiti to mark their territory, brag about their reputation, mourn fallen friends and threaten or challenge rival gangs
- Social Media: The Internet has provided a new medium for gang communication and promotion
- Gang Influenced Music & Movies: Youth may show their interest in gangs with music and movies that portray street-gang culture
- Sports Items: Letters, colors or symbols with professional sports teams may have specific gang meanings
- Gang-Related Tattoos: Often show affiliation, rank and crimes committed
- Hand Signs: Some gangs use specific hand gestures and handshakes to communicate their affiliation
For more information, visit the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention website.