Leaving a gang can be very tough according to Michelle Arciaga who updated and reprinted an article for the Salt Lake Area Gang Project . She continues to say that some gangs will go as far as taking the life of a person who decides to leave the gang to prevent them from starting a new life. If you are considering leaving a gang, remember that it is OK to feel like you want something new in your life. You may be starting to realize that the gang may only be holding you back from reaching your goals. You may feel scared, frustrated, or confused about taking the next step of officially leaving the gang, but there are ways to leave the gang and to leave the gang with confidence. If you or someone you know is looking towards leaving a gang here a few helpful hints to help you break free.
> Know that you can change. You have to have confidence in yourself to leave the gang. If you don’t want to be in a gang anymore, because you know that you deserve better in life, then this can be your start. You have to have faith that you can and you will leave the gang. Try not to be weak and fall back into the same temptations that led you to the gang in the first place. Many people join gangs because they feel like they need someone to give them that love and security that a family brings. You have to realize that you don’t need a gang to feel these things and that you can bring love and security to your own life.
> Start finding other things to do besides hanging out with other gang members. If you are hanging out with troublemakers, more than likely you are going to end up in trouble. You need to exclude yourself from that environment and start anew. Begin thinking of other things to do to keep your mind off of criminal activities and your gang banger buddies. You may decide to enroll in school, get a new job, or help out your family. Whatever activity you decide to do just do it with positive people who are willing to help you to succeed.
> Make excuses when leaving a gang. If your old gang member friends want you to hang out with them tell them a truthful excuse of why you can’t. Try to dodge them the best way possible. Don’t lie and say things that will cause suspicion. Try to stay cool and just speak to them with confidence. Tell them you decided to go back to school and you need to do homework, or tell them that you have a new job and you are about to leave to go make money. You may be surprised at how positive changes in your life can help them to start to want to make positive changes in their lives too.
> Stop looking, dressing, and acting like a gang member. Baggy pants, bandannas, tattoos, and gangsta lingo are all things that you will have to get rid of if you are trying to escape the gang life. You don’t want people to perceive you as a gang member so stop looking like one. Start wearing normal clothing, whatever normal maybe to you, and get confidence in yourself. You can soon begin to look, act, and feel like a contributing member to society.
> Have people in your life who are willing to support you while you are leaving the gang. You need support even if you feel that you are strong enough not to. Friends, family, and positive role models can help you keep your confidence up and keep you on the right track.
> Finding faith. Most people believe in God, and if you do then go out and try seeking His help. You might be surprised at how much He is willing to help you change your lifestyle too.
> Set an example. Younger children or teens probably look up to you, so the best thing is to help and show them that the gang life is not the way to live. You can volunteer to go and speak or help troubled youths who are headed down the same path that you once were. By speaking out, you will be able to look at your own life and continue to want to change.
> Have someone who you can talk to and who are willing to help you change your lifestyle. A close friend or relative is always handy when you need to vent or let out frustrations. Have someone there who can give you that extra boost when you need it the most.
> Find new friends. Find friends who are positive and are successful in their lives. You want to leave the old friends behind and start anew. Find friends who are intelligent and who can teach you what they know and you can teach them too. You will be surprised at how having new friends can change your life.
> Don’t give up. It maybe a tough road trying to leave the gang life, but you can do it. Don’t give up and fall back into the same lifestyle. Try to do your best and believe in yourself. Besides if you give up and fall back into the gangsta mentality you may end up in jail or dead.
This article was based on information found in Michelle Arciaga’s article Getting Out of Gangs.