Gangs aren't a thing in Wyoming, right?

Wrong, actually.

According to a 2023 study by World Population Review, there are in the ballpark of 33,000 gangs in the U.S. and they have a presence in all 50 states.

Even Wyoming.

States like California, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico and Illinois have more gang members per every 1,000 people. The most surprising of those states is Idaho, showing that gangs can be anywhere and can have quite the influence on kids.

Usually states with large metro areas, like Chicago, Las Vegas or Los Angeles, have the most active gangs. Many of these gangs are nationwide and recruit everywhere, but there are also those gangs that are small and still very active.

The report says that there are at least 6 active gangs in the Cowboy State. Many of those gangs are represented in the state prisons and jails, but some are active around the state too.

Gangs have been on record for years all across the United States, even during the time when Wyoming was a territory and not a state. Although the state has had a history of gangs, like the outlaw bank & train robbers, outlaw motorcycle gangs, hate gangs and organized crime.

Gangs are a worry that many parents have had for a long time, so how do you help keep your kids out of gangs?

Youth.gov highlighted the Juvenile Justice Bulletin published by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs (OJJDP) did research that gives a rundown of why your kids may be interested in joining a gang and what you should stress to them to try and keep them away from gang association.

Here are some of the finding on reasons a kid may join a gang:

  • A friend has joined a gang
  • Think they'll make easy money
  • Need feel they need protection
  • If they begin to be part of delinquent behavior they could drift towards a gang
  • Being aggressive or violent
  • School Issues

The report gives advice to help prevent kids from gang life:

  • Strengthen the family bond
  • Letting kids know the risks that are at stake when associated with a gang
  • Lend a hand in reducing the conflicts a young person has
  • Be aware of gang activities, lingo, apparel and signs.
  • Increase adult supervision on kids after school
  • Teach kids how to resolve conflicts instead of elevating them
  • Show kids the dangers of gangs

What should you be looking for to see if gang activity is present in your community?

  • Look for groups of kids in public places wearing or displaying certain colors
  • Increased number of fights or arguments at school
  • Higher numbers of graffiti in public
  • Higher amount of violence in your community or town
  • The number of break-ins, theft or destruction of property

If you suspect gang activity, contacting local authorities and expressing your concern and reporting suspicious activity.

If you have kids and are concerned, you can read the full report from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. 

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