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Gangs and seeing things I shouldn’t

Hi Sam, Im 15 and I live in a rough area. The saying with people my age is if your not in a gang then your not safe. I started to see alot of crime going on and I don’t mean people stealing or small crimes I mean stabbings and murders. People who are nearly dead have been found near me. It’s like the police are around mine all the time.

There is a guy I have known for ages and hes really nice. I met up with him to catch up because we haven’t seen each other in a while and he had a knife. Later I found out that he stabbed someone and got done for it.

Sam I don’t know what to do all the people that I know are now in gangs and I’m alone. I keep having nightmares about what I’ve seen and sometimes it all comes back.

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Sam

Hi there,

Gangs can exist anywhere but they're most common in larger towns and cities. Whether you’re a part of a gang or just live in an area where gangs exist it can make you feel unsafe, even when at home. I have some advice about feeling safer, as well as avoiding getting recruited yourself.

Gangs have ways to attract people to join - they can make you feel protected, or like you belong. However, they are very difficult to leave once you’ve joined. Remember, no one has the right to pressure you to join a gang, and if that is happening you can talk to a trusted adult or to a Childline counsellor.

It's not illegal to be in a gang, but some of the things that they do often are against the law. The most dangerous gangs have leaders and rules - and are often very organised. To get people to join their gang, the leaders might offer you money and make promises about what they can do for you. They might make you feel like the gang would be a second family, where you could have protection and friends. The reality is that most of the time you're less safe in a gang than you are without it, because being in a gang often involves doing things that put you at risk.

Sometimes a gang might make you do something to prove yourself when you join. This can often be something risky and illegal. This is so that once you've done this, you feel dependant on the gang for protection from the police or other gangs. It's also common for the leaders to make it seem impossible to leave once you've joined - threatening to hurt you or your family. However, remember there are ways to get out of gangs and it's also possible to avoid getting recruited into one to begin with.

One way to avoid being recruited into a gang is to keep yourself busy doing things away from the streets in your local area. This might be joining social clubs or sports teams that are run by trustworthy adults. If you ever have problems from gangs, talking to the trusted adults in your life helps them to keep you safe. Doing things at home or away from your local estate means that you're less likely to see any violence or crime, and the distance and meeting new people are good ways to cope.

If you’re already in a gang and want to get out then Bedfordshire Police have some useful information that might help you to get away from a gang you've joined. Remember that if you’re ever in danger then the police are there to protect you - even if you've been part of criminal activity in the past.

I hope some of this advice has helped, but if you do want to talk some more then our counsellors are available all day, every day. Thanks for writing to me.

Take care,

Sam

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