How Old Are Gang Members?
The early adolescent years (11–14 years of age) are a crucial time when youths are exposed to gangs and may consider joining a gang. The average age of gang members is from 14 to 21 years of age. Gang members, however, can be as young as 8 years old or as old as 80. Recruitment into the gang usually starts in the middle school where the age group is between 10 and 13. Some recruitment has also been seen in the elementary school and into the early years of high school. Most gangs target youth that are easily talked into doing work for the gang.
- What is the State of Florida doing about criminal gangs in Florida?
In 2008, the Office of the Attorney General and its division of Statewide Prosecution worked closely with the Florida Legislature to significantly strengthen the state’s anti-gang laws, giving prosecutors better tools to fight criminal gangs. State and local law enforcement agencies constantly work to protect public safety through gang suppression and enforcement tactics. A statewide strategy was developed to reduce criminal gang-related activities in Florida. The driving operation of this Strategy is based on the coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local governments, law enforcement, school systems, faith-based communities, prevention and intervention organizations, the business community, elected officials, and other concerned citizens. The state has been organized into seven regions and a regional Gang Reduction Task Force has been established for each region. The main purpose of the Gang Reduction Task Forces is to bring together prevention and intervention organizations, the faith-based community, the education community, the business community, local, state, and federal law enforcement, criminal justice, elected officials, and other community leaders under one coordinated framework, in order to share information, identify problems that contribute to criminal gang-activities, marshal resources more wisely, and develop and implement well-informed community-based interventions.
- Who is providing financial support for the Florida Gang Reduction Strategy?
At the inception of the Strategy in 2008, no funding or material support was provided by the Legislature. Agency participation is voluntary. Resources necessary for organizing Task Force meetings have been provided in-kind through state and local agencies, as well as, through corporate sponsorship. Regional task force committees around the state are thinking of creative ways to marshal existing resources more wisely, seeking federal and private foundation grant funding, and enlisting business sponsorships to support local strategies.
- Will the Gang Reduction Task Forces always be chaired by law enforcement?
No. The Attorney General's Office appointed leaders from law enforcement as Task Force chairs and co-chairs for purposes of initial organization. These chairs and co-chairs have already established command centers, access to gang intelligence information, and well established communication protocols. As Task Forces become operational, members will appoint their own executive chairs and co-chairs. The regional Task Forces appoint county committee chairs and co-chairs from among their various stakeholder groups, including non-law enforcement members.
- How do I find out about criminal gangs in my community?
Check with your local law enforcement agency to find out what gang awareness workshops are available in your area.