Being a gang member is a dangerous thing. Often, members realize this once they have joined the gang and want to leave. It is never easy to leave a gang because as a member you have information that could be shared with authorities like the police – and as a result, get the gang members in trouble. Gangs don’t want you to leave because there is a fear that you will share what you know with the police or maybe another gang.
The decision to leave a gang can be even more dangerous than joining. If you are thinking of leaving, remember that it will not be easy. Talk to someone you know and trust to let them know your plan to leave, so that you don’t go through it alone. By having someone support you, the process will be so much easier. Make sure that this person doesn’t let anyone else know your plan.
Here are a few suggestions for leaving a gang:
- Never tell the gang that you plan to leave. Don’t leave any written, text, or e-mail notes that they could find. You could place yourself in great danger.
- Find other interests in your neighbourhood like sports clubs or art groups. Try to spend more time with your family if you can.
- Dress down and rediscover your own identity. Gangs often have a dress code that can be identified, so begin to ditch the gang clothes and start to wear what you really want.
- Don’t speak or act like a member of the gang. How you speak, dress and act are often controlled by the gang, so make a decision to speak, dress and act differently, like yourself!
- Don’t be available to the gang – change your contact information (phone number, e-mail, etc.) and even move cities if you can. Be persistent in ignoring them when they come to find you, and give good excuses for being unavailable.
If things get dangerous and your safety is at risk, let someone know and make plans to proceed: contact the police or have someone do it for you.
Getting out of a gang isn’t easy, but it’s possible with persistence. It is worth it.
Remember that you aren’t alone, and many other people have left gangs before. Every day there are young people worldwide, breaking out of gang control. Once you get your life back, it will be better – you can have your own identity, your own freedom, and make your own decisions.
Remember that you are important. Your life counts, and you can make a difference in this world. If you ever need to talk about this or anything else, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re here for you.