Theories on Gangs and Gang Violence
The emergence of gangs in the United States was first fueled by immigration and poverty stricken families who settled in urban areas. With few having the money-making skills to accomplish the goals set by society such as money or a better way of life or able to adjust to their new urban life, these lower class citizens began to band together forming what many viewed as "gangs" in certain areas. Although there was no definite meaning of the term "gang" back then, one recent definition that has been agreed upon by more than 100 American and European researches attempted to define it; "A street gang is any durable, street-oriented youth group whose involvement in illegal activity is part of its group identity (Klein & Maxson).
In the beginning, cities and police departments refused to accept the fact that there was even a gang problem or acknowledged that that were even gangs present in their communities; however, it did not take long before their views on the subject matter began to change. As more of these so called gangs began to appear the more the general population began to notice how dangerous and violent they were becoming. While rural counties only exhibited six percent of gangs nationwide, smaller cities exhibited a whopping thirty-three percent (Riedel & Welsh pp. 222). It is in these smaller cities where the poverty stricken tended to flock to.
There are five different types of street gangs that were categorized by Klein and Maxson (2006); The Traditional Gang, who are territorial, have been around for more than twenty years and whose numbers reach more than a hundred members; The Neotraditional Gang, whom resemble the traditional gang in many ways but have not been in existence for long and consists of less than 100 members; The Compressed Gang, whom have been in existence for less than ten years with some being territorial and consists of less than fifty members; The Collective Gang, whom some are territorial also but are larger, have been around longer and have not developed distinguishing characteristics of their own; and The Specialty Gang, such as drug gangs who are unlike any other gangs and engage in a variety of criminal activities (Riedel & Welsh pp. 224-225).
Because of the increase in violence and crimes that gangs...