(Memphis) Gangs can terrorize and destroy a community, so Wednesday's news that some Memphis elementary students were flashing gang signs is very disturbing to parents.
Despite the grim news, Memphis City Schools is making strides against gangs.
Memphis City School's gang task force has been up and running for three years and they say in that short time they've cut the number of students in gangs over 70%.
MCS says Wednesday's incident at Getwell elementary where 12 students were punished for using gang language and signs is an isolated incident, but that doesn't mean they're taking it less seriously.
The students were suspended overnight and MCS met with parents and the children Thursday morning.
Director of Student Engagement Ron Pope says this is proof of what the district is doing to fight gang activity, “We know there are gangs in Memphis and gangs in Memphis City Schools. Anything that takes place in the community always transcends itself into our school districts so we have taken a proactive approach."
Pope says that approach includes working with parents, students and teachers on how to identify gangs and the implications of joining a gang.
The task force also sends its five prevention officers to any school where they are needed.
“We help principals to assess what types of gang situations are in their schools and we also going and help children if they want to get out of gangs and they're in a gang,” said Pope.
Some signs your child may be in a gang include them favoring a particular color or combination of colors of clothing and wearing them every day, they are coming home with items of value that they don`t have the money for, and they use hand gestures or signs to communicate with their friends.
You may also notice them becoming negative, aggressive and withdrawn.
Pope says if you feel your child may be at risk you should call him at (901)416-6295.