Gangs using social media recruit potential members, EPPD

File: Cellphone and texting

The leaders of tomorrow are back into El Paso classrooms.

"Sure, the recruitment is still on and it's still out there," Darrel Petry, El Paso Police Department, said.

Petry says schools have always been a concern when it comes to gangs. He adds gang recruiting isn't just done face-to-face, but screen-to-screen.

"Of course, where we are at with technology in 2017, gang are using social media to recruit or try and solicit conversations with individuals they believe may be potential members,” Petry said.

Naturally, students CBS4 spoke with are on social media. They haven't seen local gangs try to recruit kids online and think it isn't exactly smart.

"I think that they wouldn't do that through social media because then that's a straight shot to them,” Kirby Woods, Hanks student, said. “It's like oh, that's the person recruiting the kids."

"The other thing's that they just using them as a scapegoat," Jesus Del Rio, another Hanks Student, said.

Petry says there are few signs family and friends should notice if someone they know is being recruited.

Some of the more obvious signs are changes in behavior, groups of friends, and what they watch and follow on social media. He also says graffiti is another sign of a child being recruited by a gang.

If you see a kid drawing different types of graffiti in notebooks or wherever, he says, it should raise an eyebrow.

"I'm not saying all of those are or make the individual a recruit or being recruited by a gang,” Petry said. “But it's something an adult or a good friend needs to stand up and take notice."

Parents and police tell me it's vital to keep an eye on kids’ social media.

"That's one of the biggest things nowadays with this new method of communication, that we're on top of that as well,” Elvira Sanchez said.

"That way we'll see who they're talking to, who are their friends and what exactly they are doing,” Aracery Perez said.

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