|Categories:||Violence Law Criminal law Juvenile justice|
Since the 1980s, there has been a propagation of youth gangs across the states of the United States of America which have powered the publics fear and amplified their erroneous beliefs about youth gangs. A study conducted recently has shown that over one million juvenile gangs exist in the United States of America. An article Gang membership between ages 5-17 in the US, defies myriads of popular social, economic and political stereotypes about gangs (Alarcon).
The study established that typically, 2% of the youth in America belong to a gang. The frequency of joining or becoming actively involved in a gang is at the age of 14 years. An assistant professor of criminal justice David Pyrooz demystified the fallacy that the public holds true with respect to gang members being mostly men who are Black or Latino and once they joined gangs they do not have a caveat to leave the gang (Huff).
A youth gang has no formal definition, but it can be perceived to have certain distinguishable characteristics such as identifiable leadership, consistent meeting pattern, collective actions to commit illegitimate activities, recognizable symbols and insignias, a geographical territory and a unique gang name. A survey of a sample of youth from urban regions indicates that 14-30% of juveniles join gangs at some point in their lives.
In their research, Gibbons, perceive pool and push factors to be the impetuous driving youths to join gangs. The pull factors represent the attractiveness of a gang to juveniles and how it can enhance their prestige and status among their peers. Another pill factor of joining gangs by juvenile sis the potential of engaging in exciting activities such as peddling drugs and making money. Based on these factors many juveniles rationalize the decision to join a gang. Push factors comprise of cultural, economic and social tendencies that compel and entice adolescents in the direction of gangs.
The community in which the juveniles live in may define the potential of adolescents to join gangs. A community which has a heavy presence of gangs in the neighborhood experiences a high number of juveniles joining the gangs. This degenerates when the said community is socially disorganized, wallowing in abject poverty and experiences occasional residential mobility. The juveniles in these communities are vulnerable to joining gangs to seek a solution to their social adjustment problems. Some are coerced and intensively recruited to join the gangs and because of their social status they usually have no choice (OBrien).
Communities identifiable by the lack of economic and social opportunities are fertile grounds for juveniles to join gangs. These communities often have cultural tendencies and norms that support gang behavior. Eventually, juveniles are virtually born into youth gangs as a result of these cultural norms sympathizing with the gangs and perhaps their parents earlier involvement with gang activities. A community like this lacks social capital to impact the moral standings to their kids and ease persistent conflicts with institutions that offer social control. Juveniles in these communities are brought up devoid of any fiber of morality and a constant penchant to break the law making them easy targets of being conscripted into youth gangs.
The stability of a community and its stand on moral, social and religious beliefs will decide whether the juveniles will join gangs or not. Communities that work closely with the police administration and religious organizations to create a moral and social standpoints that foster a socially acceptable moral upbringing of its young ones will experience a low incidence of gang recruitment. However, in America the abundance spread of communities that have no respect for morality that have accepted the existence of illegal firearms in their neighborhoods that tolerate high crime by juveniles and are indifferent to the availability and peddling of drugs in their vicinity has prompted the proliferation of youth into gangs (Short Jr.).
Juveniles in America are joining gangs because if the broken system of family across the country. Many families are disorganized with broken homes and parents who abuse drugs and alcohol on excess. Their children feel marginalized and are prone to join gangs to have a sense of social belonging. Violence within families including incest and troubled families have slowly driven juveniles manacles of youth gangs to mask their shame and emotional disorientation.
There is a noted increase in juveniles joining gangs in families of low social, economic status and those devoid of parental role models. The economic status of these families will not ensure that the kids are provided with the necessary commodities such as food and clothing. Therefore, these kids join gangs and start committing petty crimes to obtain these necessities. The lack of parental guidance to guide them on the dangers of joining a gang further worsens the situation.
The increased numbers of gangs and members in these gangs can be attributed to increased family management problems with parents who have violent attitudes, families that are experiencing extreme economic deprivation and languish in abject poverty together with sibling antisocial tendencies. These factors are responsible for pushing adolescents into gangs to promote their social and economic wellbeing. Such families deny their young kids any tangible form of social relationship that provides them with the pride of a sense of identity. Therefore, the young adolescents become exposed, defenseless and helpless when the gangs come calling with their promise of strongly bound relationships, friendship, and comradeship that they so dearly crave (Catalano and Hawkins).
The school environment, both academic and social, plays a vital role in fashioning young adolescents moral and social standpoints. A young man who is persistently regarded as an academic failure in school and perhaps even epitomized as an emblem of failure can be an easy target of the gangs. The gangs trade do not involve the complexity of chemistry and are devoid of intricacies of physics and are not multifaceted as the literatures Shakespeare analysis. What the gang offers is a communion of friends joined by an oath celebrating with copious amounts of alcohol, marijuana, and other hard drugs all of which are appealing to the youth.
Kids who are negatively labeled by teachers and other students tend to develop low education aspirations. These kids feel that they are academic dwarfs thus seek other avenues in which they can ascertain their supremacy. When an opportunity comes for a kid with good communication skills to peddle drugs and does that with the brilliance of a good salesman the kid, therefore, feels to have established his competence. If an opportunity to peddle drugs is offered by the gang, then the kid will certainly join the gang.
School policies occasionally are an education frustration to some kids. These kids often cause trouble in school and are constantly punished for their misdemeanors. The form of punishment, designed as collective measure sometimes fails to accomplish its intention but rather escalates the kids obstinacy. It is this obstinacy aggravated by the castigation in school that makes these kids susceptible to joining gangs.
Evidently, a subdued commitment to the school by juveniles on an equally low school attachment are some of the primal reasons driving adolescents to become gang members. The increase in many antisocial behaviors in many American schools that culminate poor performance in test scores has also driven, many juveniles into joining gangs. School administrators need to keep in check these factors to mitigate the rate at which the juveniles are joining gangs in America (Catalano and Hawkins).
The high rate of juvenile Membership in youth gangs can not only be attributed to failures in the society but also to the individuals personal traits. The kids who become Juvenile deliquesce before adolescents have been shown to joining gangs at their adolescent stage. Juveniles with deviant attitudes and attributes such as engaging in irresponsible sexual behaviors and drug abuse are also susceptible to joining gangs because the gangs quench the thirst caused by their deviant tendencies. Hollywood movies and series have popularized gangs as school entities that provide coaching of techniques of being smart streetwise and tough in life. These fallacies often attract many juvenile to join gangs in order to improve their street smartness and appear tough. The kids who have inherent defiant and individualistic characters and hold a fatalistic perception of the world are the one highly susceptible to subscribe to the ideology perpetuated by the youth gangs. In America, kids with these characteristics are too many to be counted and thus their increased admission into juvenile youth gangs.
These gangs applaud early sexual activities, alcohol and drug abuse and peddling of drugs which activities are appealing to the youth, thus they have a bargaining chip that gives them an edge and is responsible to the droves of youths being admitted to the gangs. It is clear based on the statistics that when an adolescent has problem behaviors among the youths, early sexual activities, hyperactivity and drug abuse they will be susceptible to joining gangs. In America many youths are defined by these characteristics, and this is why there has been a persistent increase in the number of youths joining gangs.
Studies by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention [OJJDP ] have pointed peer group as one of the motivations that is escalating the numbers of juveniles admitted into gangs. Adolescents who are highly committed to delinquent peers who violate the law without remorse are likely to join gangs than adolescents who do not associate with law violating peers. Peer group promotes a culture of street socialization which many adolescents want to be part of. Having gang members in a class who come and proudly narrate their street experience make their peers want to have that experience. This is one of the avenues through which adolescents are initiated into gangs (Carolina Academic Press).
Statistics of adolescents who abuse drugs and are gang members who freely peddle drugs in neighborhoods and of juvenile deliquesce in America are shockingly high. These provide fodder for attracting juveniles into gangs to also experience the thrill and excitement of peddling drugs, abusing drugs and being referred to as cool juvenile deliquesce.
Many youths join gangs for protection and respect, to get money, enjoyment or because a friend belongs to a gang. Studies by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention [OJJDP ] has shown an increase in youth gang related problems to have increased from an estimated 286 territories having more than 2000 gangs and approximately hundred thousand gang members in 1980 to around 2000 territories with nearly 23000 gangs and approximately 650000 members in the early 21st century. These gangs have been responsible for violence and killings in major cities. Youth gang homicides are on the rise and have been touted to reach epidemic proportions in Chicago and Los Angeles. In urban centers gang members are accountable for a commission of a bigger proportion of violent offenses in the United States (Silvera).
It is evident that juveniles are joining gangs in America at a fast rate and are committing heinous crimes. The reason for this trade can be attributed to failures in the juvenile attribute domain, pressure from peer groups, failure in the school system, failure in the family system and the social and moral deficiencies in the community. These failures and deficiencies have made juveniles to plunge headlong into gangs in search of a haven that can provi...
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