An Analysis of Gang Involvement in Virginia

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Gang involvement has been a nationwide problem for many years, but has left its mark on Virginia in a major way in the past few years. There needs to be more awareness for parents and educators in Virginia to ensure that the proper protocol is there to prevent kids from being initiated into gangs or even looking in that direction. The “Bloods” and “Crips” are the predominant gangs in Hampton Roads, although the most notorious are the Bloods, who have committed all types of violent acts ranging from home invasions to gang assaults. In 2007, the Virginia Gang Task Force teamed up with the F.B.I. and cracked down on the leaders in the area followed by member recruits who were involved in a large number of crimes in the area. Many of the recruits wind up being boys and girls in their early teens that somehow found their way into such an unruly way of life and wound up getting sentences from 5 to 30 years. Thousands of youth fall victim to the streets and gang members’ way out of is either death or prison. The purpose of this study is to identify the contributing factors as to the reasons juveniles give in making the decision to become involved in gangs. A recent study of gang members discuss why they became gang members with the most often cited reason being because they had a friend or family member who were either interested in joining a gang or were already members. Observing individuals who may already be members of a gang with money, guns, and women appeal to the young males who live in socially disadvantaged neighborhoods. The absence of a father figure also played a significant role in the decision. According to the respondents, the notion of protection, which was believed to be a major role prior to the interviewing process, was not a significant reason for joining a gang. The majority of the interviewees who were contemplating leaving, or stated they were looking to get out, were, in effect, aging out of the gang lifestyle (Del Carmen 2009).

From the sizable body of theory and empirical research related to parental socialization and child outcomes, two key constructs have emerged as critical components of parenting. These key constructs are support (i.e., nurturance, attachment, acceptance, love) and control (i.e., discipline, punishment, supervision, monitoring) (Barnes & Farrell 1992). Parental socialization is essential to children’s well-being. If there is a lack of social bonding in the home, than kids are more likely to find other forms of socialization, which includes joining gangs. Excellent and extensive reviews of issues related to parenting styles and adolescent development have linked aspects of parental support and/or control attempts to a wide variety of adolescent outcomes, including achievement, aggression, and substance abuse (Barnes & Farrell 1992). Further research will be done in this study to see if the lack of social bonding within the home is more of a contributing factor in kids joining gangs than any of the other reasons given. These at-risk youth can endure such negative consequences as delinquency, school failure, poor physical health, and substance abuse. Policies attempting to address juvenile crime need to recognize the various environmental factors that affect juveniles’ propensities toward delinquent behavior (Schram & Gaines 2005).

Whether it is because parents want to learn more about gangs for their kids’ sake or because a neighborhood has been taken over by one, many people all over the world are affected by gang activity, so precautions and solutions need to be studied to conquer the issue. In comparison to a study by Joe and Chesney-Lind in 1995, more than 90 percent of the nation’s largest cities reported gang youth and still over 10 years later, an assessment done by the National Gang Intelligence Center reported approximately 1 million gang members belonging to more than 20,000 gangs were criminally active within...
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