Gangs

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Gangs
Inclusive Community Practices- CJS304
Written Reflection Assignment
Submitted by: Vanessa B. Smithers
Submitted to: Professor Treisha Hylton
Date Submitted: Friday, November 30, 2012

Inclusive Community Practices- CJS304
Written Reflection Assignment
Vanessa B. Smithers

Gangs/Youth Gangs

The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (Montreal Police) have defined a youth gang as “An organized group of adolescents and/or young adults who rely on group intimidation and violence, and commit criminal acts in order to gain power and recognition and/or control certain areas of unlawful activity” (Public Safety Canada- National Crime Prevention Centre, 2007). Youth gangs have become an urban phenomenon and since the mid 1980’s youth gang violence has increased in amplitude and severity, although the crime rate amongst twelve to seventeen year olds has been decreasing. The Canadian Police Survey on Youth Gangs states that youth gangs are a present and growing concern within Canadian communities, but we have not yet reached the magnitude of severity that is present in the United States of America. According to various Canadian studies, it has been demonstrated that: youth becoming involved in gang related activity are getting younger in age; the level of violence within these groups is rising; that more female youth are joining gangs; school boards are reporting more gang violence within their institutions; school yard bullies are being replaced with groups of youth who perform acts of “swarming”; and that extortion and drug dealing are becoming daily routines in some Canadian communities.

I chose the topic of Gangs/Youth Gangs because it peaks a very high interest for me in regards to my current career as well as my hopes for my future career endeavours. Currently I am a Youth Worker at a shelter for male youth in the downtown Toronto core. Each and every day I encounter a number of youth who have gang involvement or who have previously been involved with gangs, some leading to involvement in the Ontario Justice System. Also, for my current Humber College placement I chose to work at Carleton Village Junior and Senior Sports and Wellness Academy located at Weston Road and St. Clair Avenue West. Through engagement and interaction with a variety of multi-cultural youth and children, I have learned that there are a number of students within the school who are in contemplation about joining gangs, some whose siblings and parents are involved in gangs, and a number of children who are on a path to becoming involved in gangs in the future. I have always had a fascination and a keen interest in acquiring knowledge as to why people, more specifically, children and youth choose to become active gang members and what in their lives are catalysts and causes them to resort to gang activity.

When I think of the topic of gangs, it brings sadness to me because I am aware that most gang members become involved in gangs during their adolescent years, continuing into their adult years. Although this is a reality for some, through having an abundant amount of experience in working with children, as well as youth with a large amount of potential to be amazing, law abiding citizens, the topic of gangs is something that I feel very passionate about. The part about gangs that brings the most sadness to me is the fact that there are children who strive to be gang members, children who at the age of seven find the idea of gangs to be a phenomenon. They walk around with red bandanas to represent the “Bloods” and blue bandanas to represent the “Crips” without actually knowing what it is to be in a gang, until they reach an older age and recruit themselves into the gang life.

Within the text book “Special Needs Offenders in the Community,” Jeff Rush and Rob Hanser state numerous important points which I will briefly touch on. The authors say that working with gangs is difficult because individuals deny that there...
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