Gangs in America

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Gangs in America

06-06-09

Gangs in America
It is estimated that there are roughly 24,000 gangs in America today. There are 750,000 stated gang members. Gangs are taking over our youth and our county. In 1996 50% of all gang members were juveniles. Twelve years later that percentage has not changed. Gang violence is on the rise and it has to stop. We have to take back our streets and our children. The history of gangs goes back to biblical times. Gangs have always caused social issue and unlawfulness. The history of gangs in America leads back to the colonization of this country. Immigrants came over here from Europe with little or no money. The money that they didhave ran out quickly. Poverty caused and fueled illnessand death in early America and as a result many children were orphaned. In the 1700’s orphanages were set up to deal with the many children who were put out on the street. The original goal of these orphanages was not to find a family for these children but to tuck them away out of society’ssight. Run by the church, orphanages were not given money to operate properly and were run down and dismal. In an attempt to resocialize the male children back into society at the age of 10 boys were paired up with local tradesmen who put them to work and provided them with food and shelter. The idea was for the boys to learn a trade and when they reached adulthood they would open their own businesses. While this may have happened some of the time, the majority of the time the children were abandoned once again and forced to live on the streets. These children banded together and were forced to steal in order to survive. Even this unlawfulness was going on society viewed these children more as a nuisancethan as a real social problem. (Lewis, 2008) By the end of the 1700’s the trade program was all but abandoned. Slave labor was abundant so there was no need to put the children to work. Many of the youths ended up on the streets. They banded together to form America’s first gangs. While these gangs were not considered harmful, they were considered a nuisance because they would often steal food and clothing in order to survive. (Lewis, 2008) There is a huge difference between the gangs of early America and the gangs of today. Today gangs are considered more than a public nuisancebut a threat to core values of society. Gangs terrorize neighborhoods by bringing in drug use and trafficking, small street crime, violence and intimidation, and murder. (LADAO, 2006) Gang members today are mostly between the ages of 15 and 25. They are also predominantlymale with about only 11% of their members being female. Ethnic wise, Hispanics make up 44% of total gang memberships. That is followed closely by African Americans who make up 34%. Caucasiangang membership only takes up 14% of the total and 5% of all gang members are Asian. (NCJRS, 2008) Juveniles join gangs for a number of different reasons. Some might be drawn in by the glamorized parties and attention. Others find the friendship that a gang gives family like and want that. Trouble at home also forces kids to be out in the streets and join a gang. Even sadder is the fact that while becoming part of a gang used to be a necessityto survive it is now just a way of life for some juveniles who live in a gang infested area. They might feel as if they have no choice but to join the gang or they themselves might be targeted for violence. When a youth joins a gang it not done easy. Members are initiated into gang life by proving that they will be loyal to their gang. They do this by getting “high” withother gang members, getting “beaten” in, and performing “drive-by’s” on rival gang members. When new members get “beaten” in, or jumped in, they are physically assaulted by a large number of current gang members. These gang member beat the youth, who could be as young as 9, with their fists and other weapons. These assaults are so gruesome that a trip to the local...
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