Teachers and Parents Learn to Spot Gang Activity

East Columbus Magnet Academy hosted Gang-Free 411, a free workshop about kids and gangs. Many parents and educators are learning to put a stop to gang activity before it starts.

Ask teens about local gang activity, and you'll get mixed answers.

"It's just people that don't get along because of who they are, what color they're wearing, and what side of town they live on," said Umaya Bilal, a high school junior.

"If you avoid it, and you know who to stay away from, then you won't get hurt by it.," said Beth Poe, also a junior in high school.

But one group wants you to know that gang activity is more prevalent than you may think. They say as many as 15 different suspected gangs are operating in this area, each with its own signs, symbols, and languages.

"I try to teach parents what to look for, what questions to ask, and as they get those responses, what they should do with that information," said Marc Fomby, an anti-gang activist who speaks at schools around the country.

Fomby says the best way to prevent your child from joining a gang is to be as involved as possible.

"My thing is, you need to 'snoopervise.' Supervise and be nosy. Snoopervise. Be involved," Fomby said.

"Check the book bag, clothes, closet, room. Just constantly be in their lives to let them know they don't have time to get involved in that type stuff," said Chris Brown.

Chris Brown, a former gang member himself, says this meeting was just as much for the kids as it was for their parents.

"What we're doing out in the street is not glorified. It shouldn't be glorified," said Brown, a former gang member himself. "There's nothing good from the gangs, or being in a gang, and we need to preach this message to the kids."

Marc Fomby says some warning signs that a kid might be getting involved in a gang include changes in behavior, hanging out with a new group of friends, and slipping grades in school. He says parents can't be afraid to take control of the situation before it gets out of hand.