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A gang can be a group of mates who hang around together, but some gangs are involved in crime. If someone is trying to make you join a gang, and you don't want to, you should tell someone about it, or call ChildLine.

Image of a hooded teenager breaking into a carWhat is a gang?

A gang can be a group of mates who live in the same area as each other, or all go to the same school, and who hang around together.

Gangs are not always bad or involved in criminal activities and being in a gang can just mean hanging around with the same group of friends. Hanging around with your mates can make you feel safe, as you can all look out for each other.

There are some gangs who take part in criminal activity and who might try and get you involved with them and what they do. They might carry knives or other weapons and use them either to show off or to threaten people.

Why are people scared of gangs?

Some people can feel intimidated and scared of gangs of young people who are just hanging around. If they are on their own they might feel at risk of being abused or attacked.

Sometimes gangs might shout things at people, and this can be seen as being aggressive even if they are not physically threatening them.

If a gang carries knives or other weapons, they might get them out to show off and look hard. This can be very scary for other people, especially if they think they will use them.

  • I hang out with my mates but we don't do anything wrong. What can I do to make sure people don't think we are scary?

    It's fine to go out with a group or gang of friends, but it's important to be aware of what you look like to other people. If you aren't doing anything wrong then you don't need to worry. There are things you can do to make sure that people know you are not doing any harm.

    - Always let your parents or the person responsible for you know where you are and who you are with.
    - What you wear is up to you, but it's worth remembering that if you are wearing hoodies or other garments that cover your face, this can be worrying to other people.
    - Don't go anywhere that you are not allowed to or trespass on private property.
    - Respect other people's property and don't drop any litter or make a mess.
    - Don't shout out to people or do anything that might make them feel worried or intimidated.
    - If other people try and cause trouble or get you into a fight, walk away or tell someone responsible.

  • I'm being pressured into joining a gang, what can I do?

    You don't have to do anything that you don't want to do and no one has the right to force you into doing things that make you uncomfortable, or put you in danger.

    You might feel that if you join a gang, you'll be looked after and protected, but this is not always true. Sometimes being in a gang makes you a target for people and you might find yourself in danger, sometimes from other gangs.

    If someone is trying to make you join a gang or become involved in their activities, you need to tell someone you trust, such as a parent or teacher. It's important that they know what is happening and they will be able to help you.

    If you don't have anyone to tell or feel that you can't talk about it, you can call us and we can help.

  • I'm part of a gang and want to get out, how do I leave?

    How you leave a gang can depend on what your position is within the gang. It is not always easy, but it is possible to leave safely and without any problems.

    You could talk to someone you trust who is not part of the gang, such as a family member or teacher. Or call us on 0800 1111 and we can help you find a way to leave. If you want to report a crime or want to talk to someone about somethng that has happened, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit

Other sites that can help

The Site

You can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit their website

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Chat to a ChildLine counsellor online in a 1-2-1 session any time you want. Sign up to start talking.

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