Being a gang member in New Mexico and around the world can be a scary and dangerous endeavor. Members often realize that the reality is far different than the perception and want out. It is not uncommon that gang members have information that could compromise the group if it fell into the hands of law enforcement, making leaving a gang extremely difficult.

Getting out of a gang isn’t easy, but you can do it. Remember that you are not the first to go through this. Many have done it in the past any many more will continue to do it every day.

If you need immediate help, please contact the police. If you are interested in some extra assistance, please consider applying to our Gang Prevention and Intervention Program. The police are indeed here to help everyone in their community. Including you.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the easiest to leave a gang is to not join one in the first place. If you are considering joining a gang, please take the time to consider the danger you are placing on your friends and family. Yes, some times people do join gangs because they lack anyone close to them, but circumstances do change and you will likely find yourself with close friends and loved ones sooner than you think.

Gabriel’s Story

Often, someone, especially youth, joins a gang to fulfill a sense of belonging. This is perfectly normal and an instinctual human trait. There are many other ways to receive this sense of belonging. Jobs, sports teams, art clubs, etc. A quick Google search for a group of people doing an activity you are interested in will reveal numerous results, trust me.

Gang violence is the reason much violent crime happens. There are consequences to every poor decision people make and unfortunately death can be one of them. People shouldn’t commit crimes just to get what they want. They should work hard to get what they want like other people that are working hard to get the things that you are robbing them for.  Males, especially African Americans, are often the ones committing crimes and involved in gang violence because some of them made poor decisions earlier in their lives. Approximately 31% of African Americans are in a gang. This statistic remains steady over the years even if it rises or decreases a little. 772,500 people are in a gang in the United States. More than 24,500 gangs are active in the United States. A lot of young African American males are not living to see the age of 21 in this generation because of gang violence. A numerous number of African Americans males have died in 2012 alone due to gang violence. Other races around the world are probably thinking that African Americans are bad people because of what they see on TV or what they hear on the news. But not all people act the same way. A lot of people around the world stereotype black people in bad ways.” – One World Education.

Have a Plan!

Spend some time thinking about how you are going to leave your gang, or how to you might avoid the situations that may cause you to join one. If you are struggling to develop a plan follow these steps. Again, if you are in immediate need of assistance, please call 911 or reach out to our Gang Prevention and Intervention Program.

  1. Avoid direct confrontations and making statements about
    leaving the gang.
  2. Spend less time with the gang/individual gang members.
  3. Focus on court, family, school, and work responsibilities.
  4. Find other interests in your neighborhood or community like sports clubs or art groups.
  5. Notify interventionist/law enforcement in the event of a safety concern.
  6. Change your appearance and be yourself. Gangs typically have a specific dress code that can be identified, so begin to ditch the gang clothes and start to wear what you really want.
  7. Join an intervention group. YDI is not the only organization with a Gang Prevention and Intervention Program. If you think YDI is not a good fit for you, we will help you find a program that is.
  8. Don’t be available! Do whatever It takes. Consider moving cities if you have the option. If you aren’t able to, change your phone number, email address, and get off social media. You can also consider legally changing your name.

YDI’s Gang Prevention and Intervention Program

The Gang Intervention & Prevention program works with youth ages 12-21 within the City of Albuquerque who are identified either as “high risk” for gang involvement and youth who are active gang members.

The program utilizes innovative approaches to help youth learn and experience positive alternatives to youth violence and their maladaptive behaviors and to leave a gang in Albuquerque. Services provided include individualized support services, court advocacy, pro-social groups and Innovative Focus Groups at the schools, educational assistance, career development, and employment opportunities are accessed through our integrated programs in our Division. Referrals for Mental Health services are also provided.

A unique intervention is the Si Se Puede (Yes We Can) Leadership program which brings gang members together to focus on leadership development through the use of 8 sessions involving cultural, educational, community, recreation, and team-building. A graduation ceremony is held where youth will present on their experience in the Leadership program as well as a group presentation. A well-equipped studio is also available on site for the youth to learn how to record music and poetry.