Parent-focused interventions are a potentially effective tool for preventing and reducing gang involvement, although the challenges of delivering such services are considerable. Drawing from data collected over 26months for the ethnographic study, Youth Gangs in an English City, including interviews with parents of gang-involved young people, we identify potential obstacles. These include: psychological barriers to the participation of parents relating to perceived denial, stigma and blame; and possible counter-productivity of interventions. Strategies to minimise these are discussed. © 2009 The Author(s). Children & Society © 2009 National Children's Bureau and Blackwell Publishing Limited.