This month the National Crime Agency (NCA) published an update on ‘County Lines’, a method of drug dealing that involves gangs targeting rural areas. The NCA estimated that there are at least 720 County Lines in the UK and the majority of these involve exploiting children and young people.
An earlier 2017 report by the Children’s Commissioner found that around 46,000 children in England are believed to be involved in gangs.
What is being done about children in gangs?
To try and prevent children being used as drug runners, the government is using the Modern Slavery Act to charge alleged drug dealers, according to Reuters.
However, the adults in children’s lives are crucial for supporting and protecting them from gangs and exploitation. Whether children are at risk from joining a gang, are already in one or want to leave one, teachers, parents/carers, Virtual School teams and other professionals can pick up on the warning signs and carry out the correct safeguarding procedures.
Why do children join gangs?
Understanding why children join gangs is one way adults can identify if a child is in a gang or at risk of joining one. Some of the most common reasons children join gangs is because:
- they are bored
- they are pressured by their peers
- they have money problems
- they have family problems
- they want status and power
- they want to feel like they belong.
There are a number of websites that provide helpful information for those caring for children as well as support to young people involved in gangs, such as Gangsline, NSPCC and Childline.
Our new resource, Understanding Street Gangs, can also help adults understand gangs and exploitation, and take steps to support and protect young people.
Gangs thrive on secrecy; uncovering gang culture is the first step towards protecting young people from exploitation. Understanding Street Gangs therefore takes a close look at the language they use, the structure of gangs, the activities they partake in and specific warning indicators to look out for.
It also provides a number of resources such as risk assessment forms and helpful websites.
Understanding Street Gangs is now part of the CPD Library. For more information you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @PearsonPublish!