Youth Gang Paper

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Running Head: YOUTH GANGS

Youth Gangs

Dennis Selmeczi

Concordia University College of Alberta

According to the Public Safety of Canada website a youth gang is defined as a group that has a self-identity aka a group name, is perceived by others as a distinct group, and is involved in a significant number of delinquent acts that produce consistent negative responses from the community and/or law enforcement agencies. This is just one of the many definitions of a youth gang, different scholars and/or agencies define them differently some more precise than others. Some stats about youth gangs show that Canada has roughly 434 youth gangs with roughly 7000 members with Ontario having the highest number. The stats also show that 39% are between the age of 16-18, 48% being under the age of 18 and that 25% of the members are African-Canadian, 21% are aboriginal and 18% are Caucasian with the vast majority of them being male 94% (Public Safety of Canada, 2008).Youth that are more susceptible to getting pushed/pulled into a gang are youth that lack basic life skills, low educational attainment, poor work force preparation, poor social skills, absence of appropriate role models, low expectations by self and/or others, negative peer influences, involvement with drugs on a daily basis, previous history with courts and correctional systems, inadequate self-regulation skills, history of violence, school failures, family conflicts, exposure to violence in the community or at home, and unsteady jobs + lack of employability skills (Evans & Sawdon, 2004). These are just some of the many factors that push/pull a youth into being involved in a gang. There are of course other factors but that are not as reputable as the ones mentioned. What type of people is most likely to be involved in a youth gang? What are good techniques in responding to youth gangs and intervening plus suppressing them? Is jailing these youth the best option for suppression? These are the main points that will be focused on and discussed.

According to the Public Safety of Canada website the people most likely to participate in a youth gang is youth that suffer the greatest levels of inequality and social disadvantage. So youth who come from very impoverished homes or areas that do not have the same chance to excel as the rest of the population. It also states that aboriginal youth are more vulnerable for recruitment and are increasing in numbers. The main reason being many aboriginals live in areas with extreme poverty and inequality so the youth join gangs thinking that its an easy way to make money, have lots of friends/party and have that sense of belonging all at the same time. Sounds compelling unfortunately there is much more to it than that and they dig themselves in a hole deeper than the one that poverty made for them. Then these youth have kids and their kids start to follow in the same footsteps as their parents since they do not any better and the cycle continues. The aboriginal reserve Hobbema has a strong history of gang activity, a place that has a great deal of people living in poverty I for one can attest to that because I have seen if first hand many of times coming from a family with a background in the social services. My family currently house youth that were taken away by social services from their families in Hobbema because of malnourishment, severe abuse and a lack of a safe environment. These youth were lucky enough to be saved from living that life however many are not and stay in these extreme conditions and turn to gangs for refuge and a sense of belonging. Parenting also plays a huge role in youth joining gangs. If a parent is strict to a reasonable degree and do not allow their youth to hang out at the mall for extended periods of time and/or set a reasonable curfew and actually care about what goes on in the youth’s life they are less likely to join a...
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