HOUSTON — Clown faces. Red shoe laces. The Houston skyline. The Texans logo. A dog paw.

It might look like a random list, but It’s not. These are all symbols worn by Houston-area gangs. And parents need to pay attention.

Gangs are running rampant in Houston-area streets and they’re in our schools too. 

Upscale neighborhoods, suburbs and small towns aren’t immune to the problem.

“They are selling drugs to our kids, shooting up our neighborhoods, invading our homes, robbing our banks and stores, stealing our identities, our money, and instilling fear and violence everywhere they go,” according to the FBI.

It’s easier than ever for the gangs to recruit new members through social media and video-sharing websites.

RELATED: City officials speak out about combating gang violence

RELATED: See how many gang crimes are in your neighborhood

Like child predators, they often prey on kids who are lonely and seeking attention. 

Some school districts sweep the problem under the rug, but Pasadena ISD is facing it head-on. They compiled a list of banned, potentially gang-related items that every parent should read.

We’ve added additional gang-related symbols, words, letters and numbers provided by stophoustongangs.org

Many of the items are also popular with non-gang members, so parents need to look at the big picture.

CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES

Bandanas: It’s no secret that bandanas are often associated with gangs and most districts banned them years ago. If your kid insists on wearing them outside of school, you should start asking questions.

Colors: The same applies if he or she favors wearing the same color all the time and refuses to wear other common colors. Houston-area gang colors include red, blue, black, white and green. Some gangs don’t have a color and others have backed off wearing them to fool police.

Pants: Baggy pants, overly starched pants or pants worn below the waist; rolling up either pant leg or gathering and folding the bottom pant cuff; Dickies brand 

Shoelaces: Red or blue shoe laces, untied shoelaces (this is also a fashion trend so don’t panic if your son or daughter is doing it)

Sports attire: Pasadena ISD bans all college and professional sport teams’ attire, unless approved by the school. This includes the old-school Houston Astros open or broken star logo associated with a well-known Houston gang. The ban includes the Houston Texans logo, Houston Rockets logo and the Houston Oilers logo.

Gang paraphernalia: Any and all items with gang symbols, hand signs, initials and names which depict violence or violent behavior affiliated with gang membership that are on clothing, belts, belt buckles, shoes or jewelry

Belts: According to stophoustongangs.org, long white or black belts are worn by some gangs.

Rosaries: The Rosary used as a necklace or any religious depictions mixed with gang symbols; HPD specifies white or black rosaries are tied to Houston gangs

Black rosary, belt
Houston police say black rosaries and long black belts are worn by certain Houston gangs.
stophoustongangs.org

Others: Any clothing depicting gangs, mobsters, drugs, alcohol, or firearms; anything depicting the Houston skyline unless approved by the school; Confederate flag or swastika emblems

SYMBOLS USED BY GANGS

Gangs use a variety of symbols to identify themselves and some will surprise you.  

Dog paw

Dice

Spider web

Eight ball

Pitchfork pointing up or down

Playboy bunny

Clown faces

The Joker playing card

Grim Reaper

“Smile now … cry later” masks

Three-pointed or five-pointed crowns

Five-pointed or six-pointed stars; five-pointed star with the letter “H” within or on top of the star

Three dots in a triangle formation

Satanic symbols such as pentagrams or the devil’s head; Pasadena ISD also bans skull rings, another popular fashion trend

Additional gang symbols from stophoustongangs.org: Flames; pyramid; Nickle coin; Texas capitol building; 3D star with ATX; B, C, M, P, LP or TP hand signs; solid star with outline; crossed 45-calibur pistols; finger pointing gun; heart with horns and devil’s tail; palm trees shaped in V; Spurs logo; cartoon cholo; #21 in five-point star; hollow star with outline; devil’s pitchfork; Texans logo

Gang symbol notebooks
Gang symbols, numbers and letters might be found on notebooks, drawings, photos, pictures, decals, stickers, backpacks, binders, folders, book covers, even toys.
stophoustongangs.org

WORDS

BLOOD

MOB or M.O.B.

Fifth Ward Circle in red circle

Nickle Love

Nickle Luv

21 Love

P Love

Tango Blast

West Tango

Houstone

Houston

ATX Blast

La Capirucha

Fort Worth

Foros or Foritos

Funky Town

San Antonio

San Anto

Orejones

Crip

Locs

Cuz

Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation

King Love

Kingmaster-ALKN

La Primera

Calle Noventa

Dies Y Ocho

52 Hoovas

Mara Salvatrucha

Muerte Santika

Locos Salvatruchos

Valluco Valle

Puro Valluco

100% Valluco

Amor de Rey

A-Amor

LETTERS

D-De

R-Rey

ALKN

ALKQN

PTB

5WC

5W

UBN

DAMU

HGC

52 HC

59BH

59BHB

BHB

BH

LP

LK

MS13

MSX3

SWC 13

Z

NUMBERS

713

281

832

210

806

WT

52

59

13

6

5

3

16  20  2

2 8 2

90 St

7400

XXII

Along with clothing and tattoos, the symbols, numbers and letters listed above might be on drawings, photos, pictures, decals, stickers, backpacks, binders, folders, book covers, even toys.

REASONS KIDS JOIN GANGS

Sometimes good kids can be vulnerable to the gang mentality because they don’t have any friends or they’re afraid. 

These are other common reasons kids join gangs.

  • They want respect, status, recognition.
  • They want to belong to something.
  • They believe the gang will treat them like family.
  • They have friends who are in a gang.
  • There is a family or community history of gang involvement.
  • The gang gives them access to money, drugs, alcohol, weapons, sex, or protection.

TIPS TO KEEP KIDS OUT OF GANGS

Most young people who work with Anti-Gang Office counselors say they became involved in gangs or risky behaviors because no one was paying attention to them or seemed to care what they were doing until it was too late. 

Parenting isn't always easy and young people can be challenging, but the most effective way to keep kids from making poor choices is to stay actively involved with them. 

Here are some other tips to help kids stay on the right track:

  • Spend consistent, quality time with them.
  • Talk to them and be an active listener.
  • Reassure them that you care and are there to help them.
  • Be a positive role model for them.
  • Discuss dangers and consequences of delinquent behaviors.
  • Establish rules, stay consistent, and follow through with meaningful discipline.
  • Limit their time alone or unsupervised, and know their friends and their families.
  • Praise and encourage positive behavior.
  • Involve them in extracurricular activities. Attend them.

If you’re concerned your child might be in a gang, there is help available. Contact school administrators, counselors, health care professionals or youth service organizations that have experience in dealing with juvenile delinquency issues. 

The Anti-Gang Office can help. Call 832.393.0931 or email Patricia.Harrington@houstontx.gov for more information.

RESOURCES

KHOU coverage of the gang problem

Gang awareness videos

Information for parents, educators, residents

Prevention and intervention

Submit an anonymous tip about gangs

Law enforcement non-emergency contact numbers

More information about Houston-area gangs

Sources: Pasadena ISD; Houston Police Department; stophoustongangs.org