Katherine De Vito, DSW, LCSW

Rutgers University Doctor of Social Work Program

390 George Street, 6th Floor

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Telephone: (848) 932-8481

Fax: (732) 932-6720

Gang  Prevention  in Schools

Another Path

Source: Chicago Policy Review

A high investment in school is a protective factor against gang involvement (McNulty & Bellair, 2003; O'Brien et al, 2013; Walters, 2016). Create positive peer interactions for youth. Students can join activities during and after school like sports and clubs to keep them involved with a higher attachment to school and off the streets. 

Involve Students

School staff should forge relationships with parents and caregivers, getting them involved. Close parental supervision and having consistent and involved family are protective factors against gang involvement (McNulty & Bellair, 2003; O'Brien et al, 2013; Walters, 2016). 

Engage with Parents and Caregivers

It is important that youth see law enforcement in a positive light and form positive relationships early on in their early elementary school years. Schools and law enforcement should also collaborate and share information, such as local gang trends and activity (Special Agent Torres).

Link with Law Enforcement

Having positive role models for youth is a key protective factor in dissuading gang involvement (Higgins et al, 2010; McNulty & Bellair, 2003; Walters, 2016). Schools have an opportunity to set up positive role models for at-risk students, such as positive peers, staff members, or a mentoring program, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

Incorporate Mentors

Get counselors involved. They can assess for risk and either provide mental health counseling or refer to outside counseling resources. Research shows that programs with a cognitive behavioral component are most effective at reducing problem behaviors (Gottfredson, 2013). 

Connect with Support Staff

Attachment and involvement to community can assist in preventing gang involvement (Higgins et al, 2010; McNulty & Bellair, 2003; Walters, 2016). Form a collaboration with community agencies and faith-based programs, like churches, to create a strong sense of belonging in the community. 

Strengthen Community Ties

Gang prevention should be tailored to each school. It is important to assess the school's needs first before deciding on individual needs (Gottfredson, 2013). It is important to provide education to staff, parents, and students on the danger and signs of gangs. 

Assess Needs and Create Awareness

 Create a strong antibullying and harassment program in school. Staff members need to be able to recognize risk factors, signs of gangs, and address and eliminate problem behaviors by enforcing rules and consequences consistently (Gottfredson, 2013).

Build a Safe Environment

Teaching youth coping and social skills can aid in gang prevention (McNulty & Bellair, 2003; O'Brien et al, 2013; Walters, 2016). Teaching anger management, conflict resolution, emotional awareness, social skills, and how to say no to peer pressure are all important prevention skills.

Teach Students Social Skills

Gang Prevention Program Resources