Gangs are not limited to being one certain type of group. A gang can be made up of anyone; it can be made up of one race group, a group of mixed races or people who come together with something in common. According to Brantly and DiRosa, “Gangs can be said to be a group of three or more individuals bonded together by race, national origin, culture, or territory, who associate on a continual basis for the purpose of committing criminal acts. In this definition, territory can refer either to geographic location or to the scope of a particular criminal enterprise.” Being that there can be so many different types of people, shows that there are common reasons why people join gangs. These reasons however have changed over the years and are no longer good reasons. A big reason which is also a problem is when the person lacks a father figure and love. In the end however we can prevent the joining of gangs in a simple way.
Let us first take a look back at the groups of people who were considered gangs back in the day. Before today’s time, some gangs were bettering society instead of being violent and selling drugs. There were groups/gangs that were formed to fight for their rights as an American citizen. For example, the group of African Americans in the Civil Rights movement, the Black Panthers group, along with different student union groups, they were all doing positive movements for society. Now I am not saying every gang was fighting for their rights because there was some fighting for what they “believed” was right for society when in reality it was not. One of these groups was known as the “KKK.” They believed in white supremacy and they were violent towards African Americans. Even before this group there was another group similar to the KKK overseas. They were Germans who was led by Adolf Hitler and called the Nazis; who were also a gang that saw there being only one race and were violent to any other kind. None of these groups were called gangs, but their actions in society could classify them as one. These are the “gangs” from back then and they are a lot different than the gangs today. Even though they were not considered gangs, they still fall under that category because they were in groups that committed crimes. They weren’t just regular groups, they were together all of the time and committed murders against others they felt as though were not equal to them.
Now there are basically three different reasons that make gangs today and the “gangs” back then different from each other. The African American groups back in the day were actually fighting for their rights. They were being mistreated and considered unequal from the whites in that time. They had to fight to survive from “gangs” such as the KKK and even from the white officers that were supposed to protect them. While the KKK and Germans on the other hand felt as if the other races were beneath them, so they used force and violence to try and get rid of the other races. Some gangs today use violence because they think the power of violence is equivalent to “fighting for what they believe is right”. When in reality they are not doing positive movements like the gangs fighting for civil rights. Another thing that were different for the African Americans were they felt no sense of belonging to the society because the whites treated them as lower class. With no sense of belonging or feeling comfortable with the way they were living, they had no choice but to join together as one and form a unit to fight against the odds. This compares them to teens today, as they seek for that sense of belonging that their father figure is not giving them. Their family might not be showing much attention to them as well so a gang is where they can get that extra love and bond to fight against the odds of not being comfortable with the way they are living. What also makes these gangs today different is they do not have an actual reason of why they are violent towards people and other groups. Most gangs are fighting over territory, money or drugs. Which are meaningless reasons that is changing the way society is in a negative way.
Another big difference between today and the past is the violence rate, committed by teens whether in a gang or not. The teen rate for violence is increasing and most of the teens in gangs are being locked up due to gang violence. There are about 1 million gang members in the U.S today, and about 400,000 of them are juveniles under the age of 18. This means out of the 25 million teens in the United States around 14 percent of the teens in the United States are gang members. After doing research on teenage boys in gangs, I found that 360,000 teenage boys are in gangs right now. The rate of teens in prison that are in gangs have increased since the year 2009 which was 7 out of 10 boys to 9 out of every 10 boys Another number to follow up on is that 89 percent of crimes committed by teens are committed by gang members.
To look at the rate of violence in the society we currently live in, the conclusion could be made that the world is starting to decrease the admiration of the life they are living in. But, everyone has their reasons for doing things in life. Many gang members have his or her reason for joining a specific gang. Even if they give you a reason such as they did it just to experience how it would be, there are more details to that story.
Recruitment for gangs seems to be getting younger and younger each time. Today’s generation happens to have an average age between 9-17 years old. Children not even in high school are joining gangs and committing violent acts before they even think about doing their homework. Gang members recruit younger kids most of the time not only to build their gang to be bigger in size but also to have the chance to lead by word not by example anymore. Most gang members who have been in the gang for a while wants to stop doing the actual crimes and start directing the younger ones to do the crimes for them.
There are plenty of different ways gangs can recruit members, one is temptation, which is a very common one. The gang members often offer the younger kids or teenagers money or some type of luxury object to lure them in and the kids cannot resist. Another aspect that lures the kids in is the parties and drugs. They’re a big part of the temptation part as well; the gang shows the kids that aspect of life and says that this is how life would be if they join. Another way people are recruited into a gang is by an obligation tactic. A gang member may do a favor for someone expecting nothing in return but to have that person later join that gang. This favor that is done could include protecting the kid from a bully, or even helping them with money issues and kids then feel obligated to return the favor.
Moreover, teens who desire for all of the finer things, begin to adapt to the mindset of doing whatever it takes to get them. If growing in a neighborhood with drug dealers and multiple murders happening, teens might handle situations differently than others who are not in that type of environment. There is a saying, “Money is the root of all evil” well that seems to be true when on the news every day you hear about young people in gangs getting killed over money. Gangs are the image of young teens living the luxury life, which makes other teens join their gang or other gangs because they want more.
Self-protection is another reason that happens to be a must in the world we live in today. No one is one hundred percent safe today. With all of the random killings happening in the world, anything is possible at any moment. Gangs are committing most of all crimes that are happening today. Gangs are the image of protection. If one of the members fight then they all fight. Teens look for this when living the life of a “street person”. If they are doing crimes such as: murders, stealing or robbing people, they want to know that they are going to be protected during this life of crime. Because a gang member is surrounded by loyalty, they consider themselves as a family, which gives them the sense that nothing will happen to them, but they are wrong. Just because you are in a gang does not mean you are invincible.
Furthermore, another reason some teens join a gang is because they are not getting the full effect of unconditional love and can be emotionally unstable. They put their trusting into gangs to seek the extra love they desire for. Things that teens look for in gangs are the bond that they can receive form a brother or sister as well as the love of a guardian or parent type of comfort. The specific bond that a mother or father or both can give their child means a lot to a child and without that they can go astray which can lead them to the bad decision to live a life of crime.
Another reason to join a gang is because the boy grows ups without a positive male role model in their life; which is possibly what leads the child on the path of joining a gang. Teenagers today without that positive male guidance can be confused in life and do not know how to cope with that type of problem, so they look for gangs to fulfill their sense of belonging by a male bondage they are seeking. Research shows, that young black males that live in a single parent home whether with just father or mother, the likely hood of them committing a crime is twice as much as a young black male that live with both parents.
Research also shows that about 70% of all children that are incarcerated come from a home without a father. Greater numbers show that 40 percent of gang members live with their mother only, no father figure is in their life. According to Graeme Paton, “The lack of positive role models, the absence of a father in the home combined with too much freedom are seen to result in groups of young people with no respect for their elders.” This shows how bad society today is getting, where these kids, even at the age as young as nine, are not showing elders respect. Boys who grow up in broken marriages are also more than twice as likely as other young males to end up in jail and each year spent without a father in the home increases the likelihood of future incarceration by 5 percent (Father Absence and Youth Incarceration, 1999).
The numbers above show that not only does the lack of a positive male role model affect kids by making them join gangs but also in the way they live their life. A fatherless household can affect someone in a way by changing their life style and sometimes gives them the freedom to be able to join a gang.
Despite all of the reasons why kids join gangs and the statistics of things that happen to kids in gangs, it can all be prevented. Prevention of gang involvement could be very effective if ex-gang members could actually get their message across to younger kids. My theory is the ex-gang member should not argue that there are not teens in gangs that still have that father figure in their life because percentages show that there are, but prove that without a positive male role model in a young person’s life they are more likely to join a gang. A great way for a teen to know what not to do in life is if they have that positive male role model in their life that also was in a gang but got out of it just to change his life around.
It is not easy for a child to stay away from gangs especially if they are not getting the type of love and attention they need, as well as the guidance they require, but there are ways around such things like this. For example encouraging your child to join more school programs or sports could be a great way to get them another type of bonding that a gang might have to offer. I recently asked a person that I knew who was involved with a gang who did not have that steady male role model in his life and his reason was much of the same as another person would say, but he added more. “My reason was anger, towards him and life itself and I did not know how to release it. I received guidance from my friends who were in a gang and they pulled me in. It felt as if my family was complete, but I realized I had a new family to look up to for guidance.” Even though he was not completely fatherless, he still searched for help with accepting life as it was given to him.
More young people are growing up lacking that extra love, attention, and guidance which is causing them to make the wrong turn in life. A strong father figure can prevent that from happening if he fulfills that negative space that is spreading through the teen’s life.
There are benefits of not having a father around. The most popular one is that you have a chance to be better than your “father” was. Teens might say that their father did this and did not do that, but as stated in a recent article “you don’t need your father to be your father figure” meaning you can find that father in someone else that is successful at being a great father.
In conclusion, there are plenty of reasons that leads to gang involvement, whether it be that’s what they grew up around, it could be to live the life that you think will be full of luxury items or even if you need a sense of protection. More teens today though join gangs because they are lacking that father figure or positive male role model that prevents them from having the sense of belonging to a complete family. More fathers should try and prevent this by being there for their child and showing them the right way to live life. A mother can be strong, but some teens do not see that as being complete in life. So they search for gangs to fulfill their needs and as that happens they turn to the life of crime.
Teens involved with gangs Academic Search Premier Nov/Dec2010, Vol. 36 Issue 6, p423-436, 14p, 5 Charts
Nothing New Academic Search Premier May94, Vol. 63 Issue 5, p1, 6p, 3 Black and White Photographs
Benefit of not having a father Brett & Kate McKay on June 17, 2009