A lot of kids are exposed to community gangs at a young age. Loyalty and membership in the neighborhood gang is something that is based on family and respect.
WHY YOUTH JOIN GANGS
By: the California Crime and Violence Prevention Center
Gangs of youth are formed because of a variety of motives and are affected by their environment in their family or at school. Children who are vulnerable seek the safety, love, and acceptance of their peers. Children, who aren’t receiving parental guidance and support or opportunities to be involved among their friends, frequently choose to join a gang to fulfill their needs. If a child has been taken away by a gang, it can be difficult to bring the child back, as the gang could be a surrogate family to the child. The love, loyalty, and commitment that are typically found in traditional nuclear family members are transferred to the members of the gang. Members may form deep friendships with each other and feel the necessity to defend their members.
A lot of times, conflicts at home can be the basis for a gang’s cohesiveness for members. Other motives for joining the gang are exhilaration, physical safety and pressure from peers, family traditions as well as a desire for financial gain. An opportunity to gain “respect,” being wanted and valued by the group, being shunned by the other group members, having girls as friends, becoming famous, or simply out of boredom. Many gang members are skeptical of their abilities to succeed academically or obtain jobs and gain employment. A lot of potential members of the gang are teenagers who aren’t doing well at school and do not receive the support and attention they expect from their families. The violence and involvement in gangs could be the result of social, family, or psychological problems.
The consequences of these problems can be reduced and prevented by the authority people and leaders of the community who are aware of the underlying causes of gang activity. This includes understanding how to manage gang behavior and knowing what alternatives and options are available to alter these behaviors.
At school, a young member of a gang is often seen displaying indications of their new status. The gang member may dress in outfits from the gang and behave disrespectfully towards teachers and others. The new member of the gang may be a bully or fight with others in order to build the reputation of being tough. He may select a person and continue to harass that young person. A school bully’s behavior helps to establish a reputation as the willingness to commit violent acts. Then the new gang member will attack the victim. However, prior to doing this, the gang member should declare his or her plans to classmates and friends so that they are able to support the gang member and promote the gang member’s “toughness.” Word of these acts quickly spreads throughout the street culture of gangs.
“Respect” is being established for the new member of the gang and the group. If no intervention is taken, this behavior can create an environment of fear in school, in the vicinity of the school, and in the community. If at home, the new gang member’s disobedience may or might not be manifested through violent acts. It all depends on his relationship with the parents as well as other members of their family. If the family members try to hinder the child’s involvement in gangs by imposing limits or intensifying supervision, frequent confrontations could occur.
When there is a strong familial bond and ties to the family, many male gang members have some respect towards their mothers. Mothers can sometimes influence their gang members, either their son or daughter. Even if a child does not agree with the influence of the family, parents shouldn’t abandon support from the family. However, family members should attempt to discern the difference between support from family members’ acceptance, denial, and support.
The new gang members are eager to show their worth and are eager to aid with gang-related crimes like theft, drug sales, and assaults. To establish “respect” and trust, gang members frequently assist in major assaults, such as shoot-by-shots. Gang members are often friendly to the staff and don’t necessarily interfere with classes. Being a good student is not a reason to disqualify someone from being a member of a gang. Most gang members don’t quit school and usually maintain their good scores. In these cases, the gang’s affiliation can be ignored until a major incident happens.
There have been convictions for students in high school and university who scored outstanding grades and had volunteered and worked in the local community, for crimes related to gangs and murders. Some gang members lead double lives. Some members of gangs have worked for Fortune 500 companies, as also local and state agencies. Teachers and parents shouldn’t make a rash conclusion about their kids and groups.
The indicators of gang involvement could be similar to the normal behaviors in the adolescent years. It is important to consider questioning the behavior when it appears to be out of the ordinary. Becoming aware of your child’s actions both inside and out of the home can help you identify if your child may be part of the group. If parents aren’t informed, they may make erroneous conclusions or fall victim to falsehoods.
Signs that a Young Person may be involved in a gang
Gang involvement can start in elementary school. Children as young as 7 and eighteen years of age have been enlisted to join gangs, and then joined gangs. Teachers and parents should look for any signs that suggest that their students or children may be involved in the gangs.
Changes in a child’s behavior or actions that could be indicators of gang involvement include:
- A decline in the grades.
- Change of friendship.
- Working late.
- The use of alcohol as well as other drugs.
- A large amount of money, or items that cannot be explained.
- Affecting majorly with teachers, parents or other people with authority.
- Glamorizing gangs.
- An abrupt or secretive change in behavior.
- The family is withdrawing.
- Rapid changes in the music tastes and fashions.
- There are many body modifications such as tattoos, scarring, burns and marks.
Tell-tale signs of gang membership can include:
- The presence of graffiti from gangs in the bedroom, or on clothing, books, posters, athletic shoes and the walls of your bedroom.
- Dressing in gang clothes or having an significance placed on a specific color(s).
- Hand signs are used to make contact with other group members, siblings, teachers and parents.
- Photos that show gang names or slogans, insignias or hand signals of people who are who are involved in the gang’s activities.
- Using gang-style language.
- Getting gang tattoos or gang insignias.
- The disclosure of gang affiliation to teachers, police siblings, parents or teachers.
- Witnesses identifying the individual with the gang’s activities.
- Participating in gang activities
- Involvement with known gang members
- Contacts made by the police
- The family is withdrawing
- A sudden or secretive change in behavior
In a gang and the child’s behavior may shift, either slowly or abruptly however, it usually follows the same pattern. In order to be accepted in the group, the new member must demonstrate a strong attitude towards authorities. The defiance could be displayed in violent or disruptive behavior at school or home. This could lead to frequent interactions with the police or probation officers.
Why do kids and teens form groups?
Young people and children who are associated with gangs are very vulnerable. The reason why children join gangs is many reasons:
- To shield yourself from the wrath of others such as gangs, groups, or peers
- to feel accepted, or a feeling of belonging
- for a sense of identity
- Since siblings, family members, or partners are members of a gang
- To provide excitement
- To be recognized by other peers and colleagues
- Because they believe it’s the norm
- for friends, acceptance and friendship
- For potential romantic or sexual partners
- To earn money as well as other rewards
- Fear or intimidation or threats
- In the course of being a target for recruitment or grooming by the gang’s leaders
Kids may believe that joining the gang might be fun or rewarding, however the reality is quite different. Being members of a gang put youngsters and children at risk of
- Committing crime
- Dealing, trafficking , or using drugs
- Criminal record and more chance of getting into prison
- Death or violence
Why do people join gangs
Stress in the Home
- Unstable/broken home.
- Economic instability.
- Insufficient education and expectations.
- Family members of an group.
- Parents who are not supervised by their parents.
- The violence in the home or in the local community targeted towards the child.
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol by either or both parents.
Stress in School
In the 1940s, the Department of Education asked teachers to write a list of the problems with discipline in schools that were public:
- Chewing gum.
- Moving out of the line.
- Clothing that is not appropriate.
- Do not put the paper into the bin for disposal.
- The halls are full of runners.
The same survey was conducted during the 90s
- Abuse of alcohol or drugs.
- Gang violence.
- School shootings.
- Teen pregnancy.
36 total views