In another desperate attempt to do something useful about curbing youth crime and tackling gang culture today the Home Office published "The Gangs: You and Your Child". It's an attempt to help parents identify whether their kids might be involved with gangs and deliver sound advice about what to do about it. A bit like when they used to tell you to hide under the kitchen table with some tinned food when the bomb came.
Unfortunately, most of the visible gang-belonging-to symptoms for vigilant parents to watch out for are also straightforward signs of burgeoning and difficult teenagehood: detachment from the family, loss of interest in school, staying out late and being vague about it, adopting new looks or ways of speaking and spending a lot of time on the internet. Um, tick, tick, tick... in fact, exchange 'school' for 'work' and we're under suspicion ourselves.
Sadly, the 'preventing and dealing with' section reads like Parenting 101 for total idiots. If a parent is concerned and diligent enough to have sought out and read this advice, it's likely they're already a loving, supportive and positive mum or dad who doesn't need to be told to talk to their child, take an interest in their life, set boundaries and a good example. Shaun Bailey, who runs North Kensington organisation My Generation, talking to the BBC points out that if you succeed in establishing that your child is involved with gang, it's already too late. Perhaps the best advice arising from this government guff is his, to engage with your kids and not lose them to the sprious glamour of gang culture: "the best way to keep your kid out of a gang is to keep your child a child."