Theword gang has currently been used to denote a group of people with awell-structured leadership and organization that have or claimcontrol over a given area in a community usually involved in acts,which are considered criminal. Gangs commit acts like robbery,prostitution, fraud, and drug, gun and human trafficking among others(FBI, 2010).To be a member of a particular gang, one can be initiated or be anassociate by default due to living where it is situated or by familyassociation. In the Western civilization, first gangs were reportedby Pike, which comprised of a highway robbery.
Someof the gangs to name a few that terrorized London were Dead Boys,Mims, Bugles, and Hectors among others. In the United States,well-organized street gangs started to emerge in the 19th century,and their growth can be attributed to various factors. For instance,in New York and Chicago gangs emerged as a result of externalmigration from Europe, but their predominance had faded away by 1970sbeing overtaken by the black and Latino communities (FBI,2010).These gangs emerged as a result of ethnic pride, marginalization dueto poor government policies, lack of education and high rates ofpoverty. Subsequently,children have joined these gangs as a result of being exposed to somerisk factors, which emanate from an individual, family, community,school and peer groups.
Gangshave continued to grow and recently children have become activemembers. This has been so because children are exposed to some riskfactors emanating from community, family, school, peer group andindividual characteristics(Public Safety Canada, n.d).According to studies conducted by Canada’s National CrimePrevention Centre about adolescents in Canada and American cities,children will join gangs if these factors are present in their lives“poor education and employment rate, alcohol and drug abuse, poorparental supervision, over-reliance on anti-social peers, limitedattachment to the community, and a need for recognition andbelonging,”(Public Safety Canada, n.d).
Whena child lives in a community that has been marginalized, sociallydisorganized with the presence of gangs and firearm in addition tohigh crime rates and is characterized by poor parenting with littleattachment, family violence, lack of adult roles, and drug addiction,there is a high probability that a child being faced with such issueswill be demoralized and might seek peer groups to associate with,which are not constructive hence joins a gang(Public Safety Canada, n.d).
Furthermore,community structures such as school also influence the rate at whichpeople join gang activities. For example, various variables that havebeen pinpointed to increase the rate of children joining a gang is acombination of one of these factors poor school performance,learning difficulties, low attachment to school, few teacher roles,negative labeling by teachers, low education aspiration(Public Safety Canada, n.d).
Whena school has no place in an individual future, it is highly likelythat other means of success will be sought out as it is difficult toprogress without education and the right qualification (PublicSafety Canada, n.d).Thus, children will seek out easy ways, which are robbery, burglaryand eventually increase the probability to join a gang as they seekmeans of surviving and recognition.
Moreover,individual factors greatly play a major role influencing the rate atwhich children join gangs (PublicSafety Canada, n.d).When a child has been involved in alcohol and drug abuse, earlysexual activities, delinquency, externalizing behaviors, and has lowself-esteem, there is a probability that he/she at risk to join agang at ease as these factors are commonly associated with thosegroups. It is out of lack of self-esteem that one findshimself/herself involved with activities that they do not like orwish and they have contributed to the rate at which children joingangs despite coming from poor and high rate crime backgroundcommunities (PublicSafety Canada, n.d).
Luckily,there are various things the society can do to ensure that childrendo not join gangs. First, the community through individual parentsshould be aware of the sign and risks of children being involved in agang (SpringfieldPolice Department, n.d).It is important that parents are keen on where their children aregetting unexplained goods, money, guns trouble with the police orunexplained injuries(Chillemi, 2012).Subsequently, a parent should spend substantial time with theirchildren.
Aparent should make sure that they are involved in the lives of theirchildren and friends, both in good and bad moments (SpringfieldPolice Department, n.d).Praises should be given where due, so is a reprimand. It is theresponsibility of parents to provide emotional support to theirchildren and boost their self-esteem by providing love, protection,and guidance that the youth seek. Moreover, parents need to be rolemodels. It is important that a community takes a firm stand againstcriminal behaviors or illegal activities and create mass awarenessabout the disadvantages of being involved in gang activities(Chillemi,2012).Furthermore, the community should collaborate with the police toarrest and patrol the neighborhoods to keep drugs out of streets.
Anythingaffiliated with gangs should be destroyed such as graffiti marks thatadvertise them(Springfield Police Department, n.d).Additionally, the community should encourage its youth to participatein extracurricular activities. This should be done in collaborationwith local community schools or religious groups with its theme beingto impart a sense of self-respect and worth. Also, the community canencourage academic success by instilling the value of education inthe society today. When the youth understand the role education playsin transforming someone’s life, they will be motivated to dedicatetheir time to it (Chillemi,2012).
Onthe other hand, if attempts to discourage children from joining gangsfail, they will find themselves being initiated. There are severalmethods that have been used to initiate the youth into gangs bydifferent groups. They include or included, but not limited tokilling police officers, having to fight an opponent gang, use ofsex, especially where female are involved, stealing, shoot someonewhile driving, being punched, or picking up six pennies while you arebrutally assaulted among others(Esbensen & Maxson, 2012).After someone has complete one of the above methods as per therequirement, he/she can wear the colors of the gang, be tattooed andtaught the rules and how the entire group operates. From the day achild is initiated, she/he becomes a member of the group and isregarded respect by other peers like a colleague (Esbensen& Maxson, 2012).
Thus,children join gangs as a result of being exposed to some riskfactors, which emanate from an individual, family, community, schooland peer groups. Those who become members are initiated throughvarious methods that includes, but not limited to killing, stealing,fighting, and sex activities. It is thus important that as a society,people come up with strategies that will help and prevent the younggeneration from joining these groups. This can be done throughresponsible parenting, setting up good role models for the young,encouraging people to join sports and other curriculum activities andinspiring them to pursue education.
Chillemi, A. S.(2012). Gangs:How to keep your children away from gangs, drugs & violence.Lulu Com.
Esbensen,F.-A, & Maxson, C. L. (2012). Youthgangs in international perspective: Results from the Eurogang Programof Research.New York, NY: Springer.
FBI.(2010). Gangs — FBI. Retrieved fromhttps://www.fbi.gov/investigate/violent-crime/gangs
PublicSafety Canada. (n.d.). Youthgang involvement: What are the risk factors?.Retrieved fromnij.gov/journals/273/pages/preventing-gang-membership.aspx
SpringfieldPolice Department. (n.d.). Discourage Children From Joining a Gang |Springfield, MO – Official Website. Retrieved fromhttps://www.springfieldmo.gov/179/Discourage-Children-From-Joining-a-Gang