Many teenage girls are attracted to what society calls a “bad boy,” finding this image and lifestyle exciting. This attraction can sometimes lead to a girl dating a person who may be involved with a gang. Our society often glamorizes this lifestyle in movies, television shows, and music videos. Mass media has a way of conveying a message that makes this way of life attractive which can entice a young girl’s desire to date a gang member for all of the wrong reasons. However, some girls may not fully understand the repercussions of this decision and how this association can affect their lives.
Guys involved with gangs may appear to be fun and attractive, but the party never lasts. Often times dating a gang member can lead to gang membership, gang involvement, and abuse. According to a recent study by researchers at RTI International, teenage girls whose boyfriends are gang members are nearly twice as likely to have unwanted pregnancies as those not dating boys involved with gangs. Girls whose boyfriends spent time in jail were also more likely to become pregnant. Along with unwanted pregnancies, other associated issues that stem from dating a gang member range from: domestic violence, gambling, violent behavior, and involvement with drugs and alcohol. There are many negative outcomes which come from not only being associated with a gang member but also being romantically involved with a gang member. This type of unhealthy relationship puts girls at risk of losing friends, being estranged from family members, performing poorly in school, and even jeopardizing their own life. It is important for girls to educate themselves on the risks associated with dating a gang member so that the next time a “bad boy” catches your eye, you can ask yourself “is he worth it?”
Tips for Girls:
· Avoid associating and starting a romantic relationship with a known gang member.
· Get involved in extra-curricular activities e.g. sports, clubs, volunteer work, a parttimejob,faith groups. Etc.
· Maintain an honest relationship with your parents by keeping lines of communication open.
· Seek a mentor or a positive role model that you can look up to.
· Set life goals and aspirations for yourself (e.g. attending college, becoming an athlete, getting good grades, etc.)
· Report gang violence and/ or activity to your parents, school administrator, mentor, or your local police department.
· If you are being abused in any way verbally, physically, sexually, etc. report it to an adult you can trust and your local police department.
Resources for Girls:
The National Center for Victims of Crime can be contacted for referrals to local services anywhere in the country. Call Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 8:30 pm EST 1-800-FYI-CALL (1-800-394-2255).
The National Crime Prevention Council:
Project Safe Neighborhoods: Girls in Gangs
Teen Dating Violence