Gang and Mental Health Model

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INTRODUCTION

Gangsterism is an ever-growing crisis, which affects all youth involved as well as the entire community in a specific country in which it has taken claim. Children are growing up within communities where gang violence becomes so rife that in the end perceived as the norm. Gangs have been in these children’s environment from day one; therefore, imprinted behaviors leave little or no choice of role models. The subculture of gang violence has become a most feared phenomenon in many poverty-stricken communities. The gang violence that is prevalent in these communities affects mostly the adolescents, who are supposed to be ‘the leaders of tomorrow’.

Gangsterism is a global phenomenon with a long history, and not restricted to certain countries. Spergel (1995, as cited in MacMaster, 2010) pointed out that youth gangs have existed in the Western and Eastern society for centuries. Recently gangs are reported in England, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union, Bosnia (formerly part of Yugoslavia), Albania, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Mexico, El Salvador, Brazil, Peru, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, The People’s Republic of China and Papua New Guinea. Youth gangs are therefore present in both developing and developed countries.

Internationally Yahay, Boon & Buang (2008) indicate gangs as contributors to the increase rates of vandalism, threatening and drug addicts among Malaysian teenagers. This study indicated that one third of 1560 secondary schools in Malaysia have high risk to being exposed to gangs. These children are often categorizing as deviant and delinquent. These deviant and delinquent children are involved in drug addicting, playing truants and raping. Furthermore, female students and primary school students is shown to be increasingly involved in gangsters nowadays.

Nationally, research conducted by Davids (2005), indicated that the rise of gangs on the Cape flats have come about mainly after the vast removals of people under the Group Areas Act from places such as District 6 in the 1970s. Family structures were broken down, because of this removal. Areas where these people relocated were seen as barren and because homes consisted of flats, overcrowding and instability in family life often occurred. This left youth with limited choices in their home life and often would opt for spending time on streets. This further led to a lack of motivation to go to school and/or complete their education, which resulted in increased numbers of dropouts. No education due to dropping out of school, led to an increased level of unemployment and poverty. Because of this, some of the youth would look for other means to sustain themselves, which meant becoming members of gangs. Children in the Cape Flats are caught in this system and were more likely to end up as members of a gang, especially in gangs, which were family based.

However, gang violence does not only include the members but also victims and victimizers. To understand this problem of gangs, it is important to realize that human action is not only an individual event. It is also bound to family, the society and institutions. Through the relationships we form with each other, we are bound to others. All human action is therefore regarding as relational. Understanding this point is important to understand the origins of violent and delinquent acts and the strategies that might be helpful in preventing them (Gilligan, 1996).

Therefore, because gangsterism is a global problematic situation, that influences not only the lives of those involved, but also communities as a whole, it is important to look at the geneses of this problem, in order to target risk factors relating to gangs in future interventions. In the following discussion, I will use the ecological systems theory of Bronfenbrenner to discuss the geneses of delinquency/gangsterism on all four levels (micro-, meso-, exo-...
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