Reasons Youth Join Gangs Essay

3627 words - 15 pages

Deviance in Gang Involvement Reasons Youth Join Gangs

The problem of gang activity is not a new one facing our country. Ever since the beginnings of human existence gangs have served as a means of protection for humans. The issue of gang activity has recently, however, come to the forefront of dilemmas facing our nation. While cities like Chicago and Los Angeles are chronic gang sites, other cities such as “Miami, Portland, Columbus, Dallas, and Milwaukee have only recently (within the last decade) had what they termed as a gang problem” (Conly 7). Gang numbers have, without question, skyrocketed over the past 10 to 20 years. Los Angeles, for example, has recently been estimated to have as many as 90,000 gang members (Conly 14). The importance of these numbers cannot be overlooked. However, to fully understand the problems that gangs may pose to society, the term gang must be defined. Without a definition the impact of gang maliciousness on society may be lost.
Throughout its history the term “gang” has possessed a diverse usage, being linked to outlaws in the “wild west” and organized crime groups among others (Decker and Van Winkle 2). Due to this, a clear-cut definition of a gang does not exist. However, most agree that a gang is a group of mostly males that engages in delinquent activities. However, the definition goes much further than that. A police officer, for example, may call a gang “an on-going, organized association of three or more persons who individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in criminal activity” (Conly 5). Notwithstanding, this definition is terribly obscure. That definition could include a group of boys who occasionally drink alcohol. On the other hand it could also include a group of youths that rapes and steals from old ladies. This definition obviously ranges from one extreme end of the spectrum to the other end. While images of boys drinking in the woods does not conjure up representations of hard core gang activity it does fit under the umbrella of the definition given above. This definition, obviously, leaves much to be desired.
A sociologist, on the other hand, may describe the term gang with another set of values. As a result, a sociologist may describe a gang as a group whom:

Are generally perceived as a distinct aggregation by others in their neighborhood, recognize themselves as a denotable group (almost invariably with a group name) and have been involved in a sufficient number of delinquent incidents to call forth a consistent negative response from neighborhood residents and/or enforcement agencies. (Sanders 9)
This definition is less obscure than the previous one. However, it still leaves much to be desired. As one can see a “clear cut” definition is extremely hard thing to determine. In order to define the term gang one must take a combination of several definitions. As a result, a combination of these two definitions must be faceted for the purpose of...

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