KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Gang intelligence investigators with KCPD are uncovering a hidden language that could help steer kids away from crime.
"This is a great resource to even begin a conversation," Sgt. Jake Becchina said.
Kansas City police want to find new ways to curb crime and put young people on the right path. The latest idea involves the "Parents' Guide to Gangs."
"If the possibility is out there to help even just one child with not becoming involved in gang activity or criminal activity, it's 100% worth it," Becchina said.
Becchina said it's designed to educate parents and school administrators on youth gang identification, behaviors and resources.
Police have discovered this information through local investigations and partnerships with federal agencies.
"It also provides a little bit of terminology, some photographs, some basic hand symbols and some gang graffiti that may be seen out there," Becchina said, "things that if you weren't aware of and maybe to be keeping an eye out there."
Police said some common gang symbols include five- and six-pointed stars, crowns, pitchforks and numbers. These can be in tattoos, graffiti or on clothing.
"There's a few quick references on there, some numbers they can call within the city and the county if they need more resources, somebody to come talk to a kid of a group of kids," Becchina said.
Investigators have found the most common age kids join a gang is 15, but the early adolescent years, ages 12 to 14, are crucial to open the conversation.
KCPD offers some helpful tips in the pamphlet, noting the importance of being clear in your disapproval of hanging out with gang members, or using any kind of gang sign.
Parents are also encouraged to explain the dangers.
"Gang activity, or no gang activity, being involved in criminal activity definitely predisposes you to being also the victim of crime," Becchina said.
Becchina said the guide is a quick resource that can be found online in English here and in Spanish soon.