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Why Do Children Join Gangs?

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1989 words Published: 27th Apr 2017

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Gang association of juveniles is the concern of researchers and field workers .Why do the youth join these gangs yet most of them are involved in criminal activities? This study aims to understand the various factors that contribute to youth gang membership. With these factors it may be possible to conceptualize a practicable plan that will effectively prevent or reduce the juveniles from joining gangs.

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1.0 Introduction

Currently, it is well known that the issue of street gangs, and the operations of the gang wars have been something quite common to people. What should be agreed is that there have been increases in enmity springing between a number of groups of certain people as well as personal rivalries who have been slowly by slowly taking dreadful stands or thirsty and bloody fights. This has led to an upsurge of cases and numerous instances which are comprised of gangs who are wrestling towards achievement of own supremacy and dominance over the others (Visher, 2006). Therefore, all the way from the streets to the cells and prisons, such criminal sides have been able to strengthen themselves beyond the national level to become a global issue. Having achieved that, these groups have continued to get engaged in illegal activities or actions which have seen a continued spill of blood on the side of the foes. Criminal gangs have hence become a commonplace term which has been in use to denote different kinds of gang-related activities even in the major correctional centers and prison facilities (Stearns, 2009).

Basically, the term gang has always been in use to stand for any kind of approach or performance that stands for any group of individuals who team up towards establishing an interest that seems to undermine the performance of a given system. In countries where majority of the gangs have been able to effectively establish themselves, it has been noted that they have been going a step farther other than protecting the members of the gangs (John, 2009). For instance, it is well known that, more often than not, all kind of gangs in a country like United States have been responsible for any kind of drugs spread across the country, and found inside the correctional centers and prisons. These individuals give the necessary modalities on how drugs, tobacco, and even alcohol are handled within the society. Furthermore, a number of observations have gone ahead to observe that these gangs have also been greatly involved in issues such as assaults, prostitution, muggings, murders and even kidnapping (Bourdieu, 2007). Another important thing to be noted with gangs is that they do seek ways through which they will intimidate other people by pressuring forcing them to submit their resources .This research will therefore dig deeper towards understanding why the young people involve themselves with gangs and come up with useful findings which can be applied in addressing the issue reforming the youths and ensuring proper security and peace concerns in the society (Richard, 2007).

2.0 Literature Review

There are various reasons as to why the youth join gangs; the reasons vary from culture to the gang itself. Gangs can replace family units for some young people and provide a sense of protection, some young people are displaced and these gangs offer a means of survival .For instance most gangs that are made of Latinos are based on members of real families. The pop culture positions gang leaders as heroes and therefore most youth want such acceptance. Poverty also forces the youth to join gangs, they want to be able to provide for themselves. Young people from minority groups tend to join criminal gangs, further most young people have social adjustment problems and are looking for a place where they can adjust without much pressure, and gangs provide a safe haven for them.

2.1 Poverty

Research has shown that most of young people that are in criminal gangs come from broken homes where the single parent has to work two or three jobs just to survive. In the eyes of these children there is a sense of wanting to be rich, they are never content with there lifestyle and constantly compare themselves with the rich .Gangs propose some sense of being stable, crime offers an opportunity to have more than what they had even with the risks. In addition, the juvenile system of justice is not harsh and does not deter the youths from joining gangs. Anyone who comes from a poor background has felt a sense of hopelessness that can result from being unable to purchase wanted goods and services. Young people living in poor neighborhoods find it difficult to meet basic needs that may be physiological or psychological which can lead to a lack of self-worth and delight. The only way for these youths to earn money is to join a gang involved in the drug trade. Conditions of poverty and lack of opportunities to improve their situations lead these young individuals to participate in gangs instead despite them knowing the risks involved.

2.2 Minority groups

A minority group can be described as a group of people whose members have less power and control over society compared to members of the majority group. In America, Latinos and black Americans are considered a minority. Ethnic youth are more prone to joining street gangs in order to adapt to the way of life. Research has shown that minority groups face education disparity and therefore do not get good jobs; this cycle continues for generation and even becomes the way of life. Most children in the minority groups drop out of school, dropouts significantly diminish their chances to secure a good job and a promising future. There are certain group of people that are at a higher risk for this type of appeal; to join criminal gangs (Giblin, 2002). People who belong to minority groups, may feel left out gang up in order to experience a sagacity of belonging. Gangs time and again come up along racial or religious lanes. Teens experience trouble fitting in or have been out of favor from the mainstream social group are at risk a, as they often will seek any associations that will accept them.

2.3 Social adjustment problems

Gang members time and again come from homes where they feel estranged or neglected. They may turn to gangs when their desires for love are not being met at house. There is an increased risk where there are no programmes or recreational facilities that are provided by the community as an alternative to violence. Gangs often do in reality well is provide a teen with a sense of belonging, something that every teenager craves. Teens who join gangs often describe the gang as a “family”, or a reliable group of acquaintances that they can lean on in every situation that they face. This social advantage is very potent – it entices the teenager to join and then cements the gang’s hold on the individual making it very hard to leave. Leaving the groups makes the teenager feel like he or she has lost a group of very important friends and at times feels like a traitor.

2.4 Family traditions

There are various aspects of a family that increase the chances of a young person joining criminal gangs, disorganization in the family, including broken homes and parental drug/alcohol abuse .Troubled families, including incest, family violence, and drug addiction or having other.

Gang members often come from homes where they feel left out and neglected and more often than not there have been cases where other immediate members of the family have been members of criminal gangs. They often turn to gangs when their desires for love are not being met at home.

2.5 Problem Statement

The youth make up a very large population and therefore any illegal activity they engage in should be addressed as quickly as possible since it can easily go out of control. The occurrence of gangs has compromised societal bonding and life in our communities while going ahead to distort economic and social structures of the country and at the same time causing a lot of losses and fear within the communities. This calls for means through which the issue can be addressed and come up with better measures of addressing issues that make the youth join gangs and how to deal with the youths already in these gangs.

2.5.1 Hypotheses

Gang membership enhances status among the youth.

Probability of a young person joining a gang is high if they come from a neighborhood whose level of integration is low.

All gang members come from poor families

3.0 Research Methodology

The sample is comprised of self-identified gang members from the community, drawn using respondent-driven sampling by Heckathorn (1997, 2002). It samples individuals through their acquaintance networks. Thus, it has the ability to get to individuals who might not otherwise participate in the study using other methods of sampling. It begins by having the first participants of the study, known as “seeds.” Seeds then start the chain referral by recruiting a specific number of their peers who also look for their other peers to participate in the study.The process goes on until the targeted size of the sample is achieved. In this case the sample size will be very small therefore will take a very short time. Because this kind of sampling is based on networks of peers , it may give overrated results in certain subgroups especially the subgroups many people who who form big networks or networks of people who are more well-organized in recruiting. The experiment is designed in such a way that there is no bias in order to make sure that the sample is representative of the entire population. Reports collected ensures that ‘inclusion probabilities’ will be calculated. This helps in assessment of any bias that may be present in the population es, and to estimate any variabilities of indicators (e.g., standard errors).

This study aims to: a. Determine if independent variable(s) – Poverty, Family

bonding, social adjustment problems that lead to the youth wanting to belong somewhere and belonging to ethnic minority groups – have a strong correlation with the dependent variable (Joining gangs);

The study utilizes qualitative and quantitative study approaches, and comprises of administered questionnaire.

Since most gangs are illegal, it will be important to ensure the confidentiality of the information that will be given by the participants. There will be no real names used in the study and the participants will not be required to sign any documents.

3.1 Significance of the study

The findings of this study will advance our understanding of why the youth join criminal gangs and will enlighten us on how to avoid teenagers from joining these gangs.The experiments will provide an insight on how to deal with teenagers who are already in the gangs. Youth gangs have compromised societal bonding and life in communities while going ahead to distort economic and social structures of the country and at the same time causing a lot of losses and fear within the communities. This has hence been the reason why it has been necessary to carry out a study which has been able to come up with proper findings, and which can be competently adopted towards maintaining of proper justice within our country through practical applications. Generally, all what the study will be able to come out with can be given a theoretical approach hence being able to contribute towards this fight. This shall ensure that the mutual benefits commonly noted in the streets is addressed in a better manner and have more individuals who are responsible given the job. This study therefore holds the key for the rightful future practice in dealing with the youth gangs.


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