School is where kids spend most of their time, and where they learn to feel either good or bad about themselves. Most gang youth hate school: They fail at it, find it boring, try to escape it, get into fights, and have continuous difficulties with teachers and authorities.
8 out of 10 gang boys have undiagnosed learning disabilities. We know this because when we test kids in jail, you get rates up to 90% of learning disability. These include AADH, ADD, Dyslexia, and all kinds of learning difficulty. So Learning Disabilities play a huge role in gang involvement. They are a primary reason that gang youth have trouble in school, try to escape it, and compensate by finding other ways to feel good about themselves.
What to do:
1. Have your son tested for learning disabilities and have his math and reading levels checked before he is put into classes. Make sure the classes will work for him.
2. Find a smaller school, charter school, or special school. Large schools are a almost never a good place for kids who have gang issues.
3. Find something outside of school that your son can feel good about. A kid can often put up with struggling in school, as long as they have something, somewhere that they find pride in and look forward to.
4. Consider the Job Corps or Conservation Corp.
5. if your son gets out of jail, don't just take send him unannounced to the local school. You're son will show up, meet with a counselor for five minutes and be sent to classes that have been in progress for weeks or months. He will feel out of place, start behind, and almost surely fail.
a) Meet ahead of time with a counselor. b) Make sure that they understand your son's background and have a plan for him, including classes and teachers that will give him a chance to succeed. c) Try to have the probation officer with you when you meet with the counselor. See if you can make people take your son or daughters situation seriously, and come up with a plan that makes sense. d) Don't fight or think that authorities are against you or your child. They have legitimate fears about your son or daughters disruptive behavior. Instead, help them understand that your son will not be as disruptive if he feels welcome and is in a situation that he/she can deal with. Assure them you will help as best you can, and be honest if you don't feel you can do much at this point. If authorities don't feel they have the resources to help, then have them come up with a better alternative.
6. If your son/daughter gets placed in a half-day school where he/she gets out early, make sure he or she has a job right after school. DO NOT LET THEM HAVE EVENINGS FREE!!! This will be hard. Have the school help you with finding employment. They can make phone calls, help him with interviewing, and help fill out applications.
7. If school just doesn't work for your son and leads to nothing but trouble, then insist on independant study of some kind. There are programs where a teacher drops off work at the home or kids just pick it up. And then GET YOUR TEEN A JOB, or volunteer work, or put them in an occupational training program---Get them busy with something productive that makes them feel like they have a chance in life, and shows them that they will be self-sustaining adults (not losers).