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.
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
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.
Pitchfork pointing up or down
The Joker playing card
“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
MOB or M.O.B.
Fifth Ward Circle in red circle
Foros or Foritos
Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation
Dies Y Ocho
Amor de Rey
16 20 2
2 8 2
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.
Sources: Pasadena ISD; Houston Police Department; stophoustongangs.org