CJ150: Juvenile Delinquency
In the United States a gang is a group of recurrently associating individuals or close friends with identifiable leadership and internal organization, identifying with or claiming control over territory in a community, and engaging either individually or collectively in violent or other forms of illegal behavior. A member of a gang is known as a gangster. Gang members are typically "jumped in" or have to prove their loyalty by committing acts such as theft or violence. Over the past two decades, there has been a growing concern over youth gang activity in the United States. Gangs were once regarded as an essentially American problem, they are now considered in media accounts, by law enforcement officials, and by many members of the public, as a feature of the United States urban landscape. It is a common belief that youth gangs are largely responsible for the increasing numbers of property crime, drug use and violent criminal activity among young people.
People often wonder why and how gangs started. Well an American sociologist by the name of Frederic Thrasher is known as the founding father of gang research. He documented the activities of over 1,000 gangs in the city of Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s. His views on the origins of these gangs are instructive. The gangs that he observed had their beginnings, not in a single minded criminal endeavor, but in the desire of youth people, growing up in a time of massive social change, for fun and excitement. The original gangs were little more than adolescent play groups in an informal neighborhood street culture that thrived and prospered in the absence of adult. In this environment, incidents of crime and deviance were occasional occurrences rather than regular activities. Gangs are known to be located in the larger cities and urban areas, in prisons and jails while many branches of the original gang are present in small towns and suburbs. The...