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Youth & Gang Violence

By bianca89 Oct 07, 2011 1127 Words
Youth & Gang Violence
Jacqueline Smith
Jackson State University
Youth & Gang Violence
Definition of Problem
As an African American,I often wondered why people were in gangs and what made them want to involve themselves in violent activity. I grew up in a predomintely all black neighborhood and many of the kids I grew up with were in some type of gang affiliation Desciples, Vice Lord and Latin Kings. Gangs and violence is still happening every day which hit the headline news with young gang bangers gunning or beating each other down. Youth gangs are generally believed to have first appeared in Western Europe or Mexico. The reason for the emergence of gangs in the United States is uncertain, as is the exact date. The earliest recorded incidence of youth gangs dates back to 1783 or towards the end of American Revolution. Social upheaval, displaced families, and a new economy may have caused this birth of a new sub-culture taking form. Youth gangs may have emerged spontaneously from pre-teen social groups or as a response to the industrialization of American culture. The typical age span for people to join gangs today is twelve to twenty five years of age, but some members are joining as young as the age of eight years old. (Hamlin 1998) This brings one to ask the obvious question of why. Why are these children choosing to live such a life of violence and crime? There are many factors that apply to this question. Lonely juveniles who suffer from depression are likely to join gangs. Children who are often picked on are looking for acceptance and through a gang they get exactly that. Youth who come from poor, broken families are also susceptible to join gangs. Most of these juveniles are simply looking for acceptance because they are not getting enough of it where it should be coming from.

Review of the literature
A major quality of life issue is the issue of teenagers being influence by others to join gangs. This is a major quality of life issue because schools that have gangs in attendance are a very bad influence to other students who may be considered potential gang members. Another negative effect of youth gang violence in our society leads young children to crime and turns them into criminals spending most of their life time in prisons. A major impact of gang presence in schools is that students are afraid to go to school (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/crime_safe04/indicator_15.asp). A survey done by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2004 shows about four percent of the surveyed students also reported avoiding certain places in school because gang members often hung out at these locations Accurately estimating the scope of the youth gang problem is difficult because of the lack of consensus about what counts, size, stability, hierarchy, symbolic communication, and ongoing criminal activity distinguishes a true gang from a temporary group of individuals, not to mention what level of involvement in and devotion to the gang distinguishes a real member from a hanger-on or “wannabe.” Also, the available sources of information on gangs are unreliable. Gangs are, after all, inherently secret groups. Outsiders are very likely to miss or misinterpret signs of their presence. Insiders are liable to distort the signs (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,http://gangresearch.net/GangResearch/Seminars/official%20statistics/ nygsy02.pdf.) Many people join gangs for reasons such as power, status, security, friendship, family substitute, economic profit, substance abuse influences, and numerous other factors can influence kids to join gangs (NSSASS). Gangs cross many boundaries when it comes to age, sex, race, economic status and academic achievement. Today there are many gangs on the streets that are committed to a certain race or religion, while other gangs are open to all. For example, the 18th Street Gang, based in California, consists mostly of Hispanics; gangs such as the “Bloods” and “Crips” which are nationwide are open to all (The Heritage Foundation, heritage.org). If a certain community is famous for having produced gangs, that community will have a bad reputation in society. Communities similar to that one will suffer the same fate; they will also have a bad reputation. For example, the 18th Street Gang based in California consists mostly of Hispanics. Communities outside of California that have a large Hispanic population will be thought as a gang ridden community also. The reason for this is that many people think “monkey see, monkey do”. If one community is doing it, the other communities will be doing it also. Hypothesis

It has been hypothesized that majority of teenagers join gangs because belonging to these types of groups caused people to feel happy, have power and gain respect. Conclusion
Some teenagers that are not very close to their families are always looking for ways to make themselves stand out in hopes that their parents will notice them and pay attention to their child’s life. One option is that teenagers join a gang and get a tattoo symbolizing their gang involvement. If the average parent sees a tattoo on their child’s body, they will immediately react negatively and have a long discussion about the tattoo and wanting or get it removed. However, there are many parents that will just ignore the tattoo and continue on with their lives (Atkin, S. Beth. Voices from the Streets). When parents do not really care about their child’s safety, health, or what they do in an everyday situation, this makes the child more susceptible to join gangs. If a child’s own family doesn’t care about him/her, they will go look for one. And the family they will go to just happens to be a group of people their age who sometimeface the same crisis they are in. When someone is having problems, they will go to people who can relate to their problems. References

Atkin, S. Beth. Voices from the Streets. Canada Little, Brown and Componay Ltd, 1996Cowell, James C., “The Impact of Gangs on Societies”, National Youth Gang Center Bulletin. August 2006. Hamlin, John. "Juvenile Delinquency." University of Minnesota. October 2, 2009 .Department of Sociology and Anthropology, UMD. . "Youth Gangs and Violence.". National Youth Violence PreventionResource Center. . National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2004http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/crime_safe04/indicator_15.aspNational School Safety and Security Serviceshttp://schoolsecurity.org/trends/gangs.html Egley, Arlen, Jr. and Mehala Arjunan. “Highlights of the 2000 National Youth Gang Survey #4”, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, February 2002 Retrieved October 2, 2009 from http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/fs200204.pdf The Heritage Foundation, October 2, 2009 from http://www.heritage.org/Research/LatinAmerica/tst042105a.cfm

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