The problem of gangs is growing, and not only in major city centers. The Justice Department says there are now 30,000 gangs with more than 800,000 members. The National Youth Gang Centre (NYGC), which conducts an annual survey that is funded by the Justice Department, concedes that every town of 250,000 people now has a gang problem.
Many young adults who join gangs may do it for the following reasons:
- Gangs may offer kids a powerful group identity and a kind of recognition they cannot get at home or elsewhere.
- If there are many gangs in an area, joining one of them may offer protection from rival gangs.
- Feeling of Belonging
- Gang activity may offer a feeling of being a part of a "family" that is missing in the child's home. The child becomes loyal to the gang's values, rather than those of the home.
- Threats and violent beatings may be used to force youths to join.
- Gang activity may seem attractive to kids who are bored, lack interests and direction, or do not feel good about themselves. The media has glamorized gangs in music, movies, and video games. This adds to the excitement associated with them.
- Peer Pressure
- Kids are pressured to join gangs if others around them are gang members.
- Financial Benefit
- Kids see being in a gang as an easy way to gain money and new possessions.
- Lack of Knowledge
- Kids, especially young ones, do not realize the true dangers of being in a gang.
So how do we solve the problem?
Enact tougher gang laws. Here are some examples:
Trying to keep kids out of a gang starts at home. Parents need to help their children develop self-esteem to try and give them the courage to avoid joining a gang.
- Support your child's goals and ideas, even if they differ from your own.
- Encourage your child to make independent choices.
- Give your child a chance to contribute to the family. Assign chores or jobs that your child is old enough to do.
- Focus on your child's good points. Praise positive behavior.
- Let your child know you expect good efforts and hard work in everything.
- Teach your child that trying hard counts. Praise your child's efforts as well as...