Gangs In Our Society
By Emmanuel Moorer
Gangs are becoming prevalent in today’s society and within our schools. More and more young people are turning to gangs in an attempt to escape their everyday lives and the future, which they perceive as dismal and bleak. They are initially attracted to the prestige and cash flow, which is glamorized by the street gang. Many gangs are actively involved in criminal misbehavior, such as drug and gun trafficking, burglaries and homicides. But, street gangs are not just a criminal justice issue, but a social problem, which is triggered by poverty, peer pressure, boredom, despair and lacking a sense of belonging. A street gang can be defined as “an organized social system that is both quasi-private (not fully open to the public) and quasi-secretive (much of the information concerning its business remains confined with the group) and one whose size and goals have necessitated that social interaction be governed by a leadership structure that has defined roles; where the authority associated with these roles has been legitimized to the extent that social codes are operational to regulate the behavior of both the leadership and the rank and file. That plans and provides not only for the social and economic services of its members, but also for its own preservation as an organization; that pursues such goals nevertheless of whether the action is legal or not; and that lacks a government. This definition involves the overall structure of the gang system. It also shows how membership into a gang can be attractive, as there is structure and a sense of belonging within the system. The presence of gangs may be seen or felt everywhere, from large urban cities to smaller rural communities. “Gang members do not represent an invisible empire. They thrive on recognition and are constantly seeking ways to make their presence known or felt. “According to statistics from the National Youth Gang Center, more than 24,500 gangs, consisting of more than 770,000 members, exist in about 3,300 cities in the U.S. Though it is not illegal to be a member of a gang, it should be noted many gangs participate in illegal activity for funding and will use the money as a way to lure new membership. The “money begins flowing, and with that comes all of the things associated with material wealth that is usually beyond the reach of these youths without the criminal activity of being involved in a gang” Many times individuals turn to a gang to escape a life of poverty or financial uncertainty. A sense of hopelessness and desperation can result from being unable to provide the basic necessities. “Young people living in poverty may find it difficult to meet basic physical and psychological needs, which can lead to a lack of self-worth and pride”. Individuals who are faced with a lack of money many times turn to crime if they cannot earn enough at a legitimate job to support themselves or their families. “This partly explains why gangs exist in poor, rundown areas of cities”. Although escaping poverty is enticing to youth to join gangs, susceptibility to peer pressure is another way adolescents turn to gang membership. Many times young children and teenagers are recruited at school or in their neighborhood by their friends. They are trying to fit in and to be part of a group, especially if they have a friend who is involved. “Even at a young age, they need to feel that they belong to a crowd. They will also follow their siblings or parents into the gang life. If an older sibling or parent is actively involved in a gang, many times the individual will feel pressured into joining. “Family members in gangs often recruit other family members and young people are at risk for joining a gang”. Boredom and a lack of structured activities can also lead adolescents to join a gang. Many times individuals are looking for an outlet to vent their energy. Without...
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