Gangs are no longer just a problem in large cities and urban neighborhoods. They can be found in just about every city in every state in the US. Teens usually join gangs in an attempt to correct both the social and emotional problems in their lives. There are many complex reasons kids join gangs, but they can usually be put in one of three categories. They join in order to find love and acceptance, they see gangs as a surrogate family, and they join to improve their self image.
Teens often join gangs because they want to feel that they fit in somewhere. Some youths feel rejected in more common social situations due to their cultural heritage, religious beliefs, or race. They join gangs to protect themselves against discrimination and to find acceptance among one another within their gang. "Gangs are made-to-order friendship groups," Says high school counselor Kay Miller. "When no one else will accept these kids, gangs will. It becomes a logical choice for kids who are desperately searching for companionship and identity" (qtd. in Wendel 4). Gangs are typically made up of people who have experienced similar rejection. This provides the members with feelings of equality and importance.
Sometimes these teens also feel that they are outcasts in their own homes. Some are basically abandoned by their parents and are searching for affection. While others have extremely critical parents and are searching for approval. However, all are looking for the unconditional love that they have never received. High school counselor Ken Tabish believes that, "Most of these kids feel alienated in some way. They are searching for a sense of belonging and identity, which they are not getting at home or school" (qtd. in Wendel 4). Without acceptance from their families, they may turn to a gang to find it.
Along with acceptance, these teens are also looking to fill a void left by the absence of a healthy family structure. "Youths want to organize... [continues]
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