Group violence

Is your child involved in group violence?

Nobody likes to think that their child is capable of crime or violence. Most young people don't and never will belong to a gang. A group of young people “hanging around” on street corners wouldn't be described as a gang as long as that group stays within the law.

Maybe your child:

  • avoids you
  • stays out later and later without permission
  • spends time with people that you know nothing about

These could be considered normal patterns of behaviour, but something else has probably raised your suspicions, otherwise you would not be reading this.

Young people will often join a gang because:

  • they want to belong
  • they feel negative about their future prospects
  • they have been pressurised into it

In reality an organised gang might recruit young members because:

  • due to legislation, the punishments handed out to younger children are seen as less severe than those imposed on adults
  • younger members can be sent on riskier jobs, as they're more likely to want to impress and gain respect from older members, and are unlikely to draw as much attention
  • younger children are also more easily influenced

Whatever the reasons, gang life is dangerous and you should try to intervene sooner rather than later.

What can you do?

The most important thing is that you talk to your child.

If you don't think they'll listen to you, don't risk pushing them further away; talk to someone yourself. You will be doing them a favour in the long run:

  • talk to the parents of his or her friends - see if they know anything about it
  • contact their school
  • speak to your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team or visit your nearest police station for advice

There is no excuse for violence

If you think it's getting bad, perhaps someone has been hurt, you should report it, even if you know your child will get into trouble. It's better they get into trouble now than get into more serious trouble in the future - or worse still get themselves seriously injured or even killed.

  • You can go into your nearest police station or speak to your child's Safer Schools Officer or local Safer Neighbourhoods Team - if it's an emergency and someone is in immediate danger you should call 999.
  • If you feel unable to talk to the police, you can call the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111 in confidence (you won't have to give your name and your call will not be traced).
  • For more information visit the ‘Reporting crime’ section on the Metropolitan Police website or the ‘How to contact us’ page on this site.
Group violence

Getting more help

There are many trained professionals who can offer confidential help and advice to support both you and your child. First of all, you should try ChildLine and Be Someone to Tell

For more information about group violence visit our 'More help and advice' page, or for other related topics, take a look at our sections on bullying and knife and gun crime.