Gangs have been a problem in Eastern Carolina for awhile, but you may be startled by what we're we're learning from police.
Kinston Police say gangs are becoming more popular for children as young as elementary school.
One mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, knows that all too well. She says her kids have been attacked by gangs.
Police sergeant Dennis Taylor has investigated gangs in Kinston for three years. He says, "When I came over we had 300 validated gang members. We're over 600 validated gang members at this time."
Taylor says police have identified 22 gangs in the city that may start on the street, but often times end up in the schools.
Taylor says, "We have reports of students who are younger talking about gangs in elementary school, and showing signs and having some reports of some graffiti in the schools."
That's why the gang resistance classes he conducts for both teachers and students in middle, junior and high schools, are now being taught in elementary schools.
Kinston High School principal Angela Bryant says they learn how to identify if a student is in a gang. Bryant says, "Law enforcement will tell you to look for three things: maybe the coloration, maybe who they're hanging out with, possibly signs and drawings on their notebook, so you're looking for multiple things."
Taylor also says, "We have girls in gangs. For the most part, they are there more so now than ever. They have taken a significant role now in the gangs, just as the guys have."
The mother we talked with says while her kids are not in a gang, the gang activity is taking a toll. She says, "My kids are not able to participate in certain things that they wish to participate in, like football, weightlifting, different things that kids should participate in. I'm so scared to even allow them to participate in things due to the fact of this stuff. It's like we're prisoners in our own home."
If you feel as though your child may be involved in a gang or is being harassed by a gang, police ask that you contact them so they can give you advice on how to talk to your child.