University of Phoenix
Although some may argue that gang activity and youth involvement has grown exponentially through the years, it has been an ongoing epidemic for decades. Methods, levels of violence, rules, and motivations may have changed over the years, but the basic infrastructure has remained the same. The earliest accounts of youth involvement in gangs first appeared in Europe or Mexico, while the earliest record of youth gangs appearing in the United States are recorded as early as 1783. In the early 1800’s youth gangs appeared to spread in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, in the form of poverty stricken Irish immigrants. Kids banded together and ran the streets stealing food and goods to help feed their families. These crews were more a nuisance than anything else (Howell, 1998). In the 1970’s and 1980’s, trends changed and guns and drugs were introduced to the streets. Young gang members became influenced by more options by way of mobility and easy connections to more lethal weapons which made them more dangerous on the streets. Instead of fighting young gangs were now performing drive by shootings, a tactic that was taken from walking up on someone, shooting them, and then running. Gangs of the 1980’s and 1990’s seem to have more and more younger members, but also more older members than before. With this came more members with prison records or ties to prison inmates, and more lethal weapons. It also brought members who were considered “OG’s” to the forefront, and these older members became the leaders and directed the younger members on what to do and how to do it. They became a boss, father, and older brother to the fresh young recruits. As crack cocaine was introduced in the 1980’s, so was major drug trafficking. This changed the direction of gangs forever, as more money became involved than ever before. Instead of fighting for territory and respect, now young gang members had money in their pockets and were turning on each other in a battle over money, drugs and guns (Howell, 1998). According to a 1998 law enforcement survey the ethnicity of gang members is 48% African Americans, 43% Hispanic, 5% white, and 4% Asian. Hispanic gangs have strong links to the neighborhood which tie them to the larger culture. Much of their violence has been related to defending the neighborhood, turf or barrio. In contrast, African American gangs in large cities tend to replace traditional social network that linked youth with legitimate work opportunities. These gangs tend to be involved in entrepreneurial activities more than other ethnic racial gangs and may involve from scavenger groups to turfs gangs and drug trafficking. Use of violence to protect the neighborhood or turf from rival gangs is rarely planned and occurs spontaneously among gangs. The youth gang problem in this country is substantial and affects communities of all sizes. Youth gangs are widespread in certain cities with chronic gang problems such as Chicago and Los Angeles. Chicago is said to have about 132 gangs with an estimated membership of 30,000 to 50,000 gang members. The four largest gangs in Chicago that are very active are the Black Gangster Disciple Nation, The Latin Disciples, the Latin kings, and the Vice Lords. Police in Los Angeles estimate that the city has more than 58,000 gang members making it the U.S. city with the most gang members. In joining, youth gangs is consisting of both pulls and pushes. The pulls are the attractiveness of the gang, prestige, status among friends especially girls and opportunities to be with them. Gangs give attractive opportunities such as the chance for excitement by selling drugs and making money. The youth see personal advantages to gang membership such as social, economic, and cultural forces. Protection from other gangs are key factors, for some youth gangs it provides a way of social trial and tribulation adjustment problems in the community. In...
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