Why Do Youths Join Gangs?

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Why do youths join Gangs?

Teenagers often struggle to define themselves and their place in the world. They may choose to associate with a certain group because its members share similar beliefs, attitudes or interests. However, teens also look to others to fulfill their basic needs for such things as companionship, understanding and emotional support. When these needs are not met sufficiently or at all by the teens family, they become susceptible to joining gangs. A gang is a group of individuals who share common traits. They are often identified by the clothes or colors that they wear and have a name. Gangs are composed of leaders and followers. They typically have their own methods of communication such as language, symbols, signs or handshakes. Joining a gang requires potential members to go through an initiation of some sort. Initiations into gangs often include the endurance of physical harm or engaging in some form of illegal or dangerous behavior, failure to give proper gang hand signals could lead to a beating. There are many reasons why kids join gangs, but like most youth activities, whether criminal or otherwise, most kids join gangs for companionship and love, social, economic, and cultural forces push many adolescents in the direction of gangs too. Most commonly, teens become gang members to fill their need to belong. Oftentimes, such teens have dysfunctional families or are loners. Gangs are looked to for protection, loyalty and a sense of identity. Members consider themselves part of a family and view their gang as a source of pride. Gangs may fulfill the need for acceptance and recognition as well. However, members are required to do such things as steal from local stores, corrupt buildings with graffiti and engage in other crimes.

The drug trade is harsh and dangerous. Lower rung drug dealers do not drive BMW's, wear gold jewelry, or get rich quick. They work around the clock, six or seven days a week, for low wages, often enforced by the...
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