“I BELIEVE MY CHILD IS INVOLVED IN A GANG”
WHAT TO DO
The gangs of today are not like the vicious secret societies of the past. At least not those in Singapore. They are not so organised nor do they pose a serious threat to society at large. However, gangs often engage in illegal activities and still do violent things, like bloody clashes that may be fatal. It is crucial that children are kept as far away from gangs as possible.
Origin of clans and triads
Early migrants in Singapore wanted their own communities (clans, dialect groups, villages from where they came from) to be looked after; they started forming their own societies, otherwise known as triads. However, some of these societies became more and more unruly and started engaging in antisocial activities. The secret societies of the past had a significant impact on Singapore’s race riots as well as the communist insurgency in Singapore.
The gangs of today do not operate under hierarchy or a structure and are therefore just street gangs. However, some of these street gangs have been reported to engage in violent acts such as slashing in recent years. Loansharking activities are also common in gang culture. What should a parent do if his child is suspected to be involved with the wrong company?
Get the facts straight
Firstly, find out if the child is really involved in a gang. A group of rowdy friends may not always mean they are a gang. A gang causes trouble and engages in senseless and illegal acts. So, what are some signs that a person may be in a gang? For one, if the child always comes home late at night it could spell trouble. As gangs usually meet late into the night, most of them will return home late regularly. Another sign could also be if he has possession of cigarettes or alcohol even when he is underaged; gangs have older members to help the child procure these things. They obtain and distribute such items to fellow members to make them feel like they belong, like adults.
Price to pay
This sense of belonging, the camaraderie, has a price. Gangs do hurt people. What most teens don’t always realise is that gangs will eventually cause them more harm than good. The cheap thrills are simply not worth it. When the law catches up with some of the members, they are pressured into revealing other members, and for good reasons. Due to Singapore’s past dealings with secret societies, a law had been passed, allowing the police to arrest a suspected gang member or detain someone first before asking questions. Will the teen talk? What will members think of the “snitching”? It is crucial that teens understand the potentially dire consequences.