Gangs and young people How you can help keep children and young people safe

If you're worried about gangs, it can be difficult to know what to do to help protect young people. Whether they're thinking about joining a gang, are already involved or want to leave, they need help and support.

Girl standing beside garages

Children and young people involved with, or on the edges of, gangs might be victims of violence or they might be pressured into doing things like stealing or carrying drugs or weapons. They might be abused, exploited or put into dangerous situations.

For lots of young people, being part of a gang makes them feel part of a family so they might not want to leave. Even if they do, leaving or attempting to leave can be a really scary idea. They might be frightened about what will happen to them, their friends or their family if they leave.

County lines and criminal exploitation

You may be worried about county lines and the impact it's having on your family and community. We have information on reporting grooming and criminal exploitation and support for familes, children and young people. The Children's Society have advice for parents and worried adults.

Watch: how to protect young people involved in gangs 

If you're worried, call our helpline

You can contact our helpline anonymously via phone or online.

0808 800 5000

Why young people join gangs

There are lots of reasons why young people feel the pressure to join gangs. They might be bored and looking for excitement or feel attracted to the status and power it can give them. They might join due to peer pressure, money or family problems. Gang membership can also make a child feel protected and that they belong.

"I joined a gang so I would stop being bullied but some of the things other gang members do has started to really bother me. They say really offensive things to people and steal stuff. I don't know who I can talk to. I'm worried. I want to get out."

"I've thought about leaving but I realised it isn't that simple and I think I'd miss it because being in a gang is like being in a family. We look out for each other and are respected by people - I don't know if I'd cope if things weren't like that for me any more."

How can you help a child involved in a gang?

Support groups and specialist agencies such as St Giles Trust, Safer London Foundation, and One Big Community can help. Contact our helpline for details of organisations near you.

Boy walking and looking pensive

Suggest they call Childline

Children can contact Childline, our free 24/7 confidential helpline for children, on 0800 1111 for support and advice.

Call NSPCC helpline

For more advice about how to help, which is specific to your child's situation, you can get in touch with our helpline.