Parents get help to spot warnings
Tracey Tong/metro ottawa
City police have introduced Gang Cards — a new tool to help parents detect early signs of gang involvement in children.
Ottawa Police will distribute 15,000 of the cards — which list warning signs that a youth may be involved in gang activity and tips for parents — through school resource officers, community police centres, youth centres and Crime Prevention Ottawa.
“This is a simple and effective prevention tool that can help parents assess the risk with their own kids and react to potential gang involvement,” said Chief Vern White.
The cards will provide an opportunity for people to engage in dialogue with their child or youth, said Sergeant Mike Callaghan, of police’s youth section.
“Evidence and research indicates that early intervention will have a greater likelihood of children and youth not gravitating towards criminal gang activity,” said Callaghan, with police’s youth section.
Warnings signs include alcohol or drug use and a circle of friends that may have changed drastically.
“They may become very concerned about privacy, be carrying a concealed weapon or trying to conceal personal items, make impulsive or excessive purchases and using gang specific colours or emblems and a lot of hand signals,” said Callaghan.
“It’s important for parents to … ensure that they’re engaged with their son or daughter both emotionally and educationally. It’s important for youth to …. have moral fibre to make a decision with respect to activities they know are wrong,” said Callaghan.