Why Do Kids Join Gangs?
Factors motivating kids to join gangs vary individual to individual. A multitude of social and economic reasons can be involved. Power, status, security, friendship, family substitute, economic profit, substance abuse influences, and numerous other factors can influence kids to join gangs. Gang members also cross all socio-economic backgrounds and boundaries regardless of age, sex, race, economic status, and academic achievement.
Each case must be evaluated on an individual basis, thus the importance of knowing what to look for and how to intervene early before the problem becomes entrenched!
Gang versus Non-Gang Activity
Gang violence is different from non-gang violence in several ways:
Gang violence typically involves a larger number of individuals Gang-related violence tends to be more retaliatory and escalates much more quickly than non-gang violence Gang activity is usually more violent in nature and often involves a greater use of weapons. School and public safety officials must look at gang activity differently and not as one-on-one, isolated incidents. Otherwise, the problem can escalate so quickly that a school lunchroom fight between rival gang members will escalate into a potential drive-by shooting just hours later at school dismissal.
School officials must still discipline individual students involved in gang offenses on a case-by-case basis based upon their individual actions in violating school rules, but educators must see the forest with the trees and recognize that these offenses are interrelated and part of a broader pattern of gang-related misconduct and violence.
Typically, people look for graffiti or bandannas as the main indicators of a gang presence. However, gang indicators can be quite subtle, particularly as awareness increases among school officials, law enforcement, parents, and other adults.
Depending upon the specific gang activity in a specific given school or community, gang identifiers may include:
Graffiti: Unusual signs, symbols, or writing on walls, notebooks, etc. "Colors": Obvious or subtle colors of clothing, a particular clothing brand, jewelry, or haircuts (But not necessarily the traditional perception of colors as only bandannas) Tattoos: Symbols on arms, chest, or elsewhere on the body "Lit" (gang literature): Gang signs, symbols, poems, prayers, procedures, etc. in notebooks or other documents Initiations: Suspicious bruises, wounds, or injuries resulting from a "jumping in" type initiation
Handsigns: Unusual hand signals or handshakes
Behavior: Sudden changes in behavior or secret meetings
1. THE HARD CORE STREET INTERVENTIONISTS
In 1995, epidemiologist, Dr. Gary Slutkin left his research post for the World Health Organization in Africa to return to the U.S. to address the violence epidemic in the U.S. In Chicago, Slutkin developed and implemented a new “epidemiological” strategy for violence reduction by literally interrupting the spread of gang violence on the street as it happened, using street smart intervention workers, fortified with outreach from faith-based and community groups.
The resulting program known as CeaseFire, showed an average of 45% reduction in shootings in the first five neighborhoods in which it was implemented.
Yet, while the drop in violence was dramatic, it was unclear if CeaseFire was creating systemic change and, in 2007, when the program was shut down due to budget cuts, violence shot up almost immediately.
Despite the questions, CeaseFire has become the most fashionable gang violence reduction model in the nation---with a newly designed version launched in Los Angeles in January 2009.
Here's the question: Although LA policy makers committed millions of city dollars to what they called the hardcore intervention approach, critic are wondering if it is more tourniquet, than cure. As in Chicago, LA is allocating few resources to...
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