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Youth Gangs Essay

2633 words - 11 pages

IntroductionYouth gangs can be explained as collection of youths and young adults with unstable degrees of organization and formation, who have regular contact with one another, ways of identifying their group, and rules of behavior within the system. There are at least three distinct types of gangs. The first is referred to as a social gang. This gang is a relatively permanent group that "hangs out" at a specific location (i.e., store, Youth corner, abandoned building). Social gangs are not likely to participate in serious delinquent activity and will engage in physical violence only if members are attacked and retaliation is unavoidable. The group stays together because of mutual attraction among its members, rather than through a need for protection or esteem. These gang members tend to have the closest association with the norms and values of society in general (Fagan, 2007). A second type of gang is the delinquent gang. This gang type is structurally cohesive and is often organized around the pursuit of monetary gain derived from illegal activity.Gang survival is dependent upon each member's precise execution of his/her assignment and the provision of back-up support when necessary. The accomplishment of these group enterprises may be viewed by gang members as their method of getting ahead in the world (Fagan, 2007). A third gang type is the violent gang. The primary purpose of this gang is to obtain the power and associated emotional gratification that violent activities can bring to youths (Hardy, 2005). Both leaders and followers tend to overestimate the importance, size, and power of their group. These gangs tend to have a highly structured hierarchy of leaders and followers. The violent gang is also characterized by intragroup violence.Gang members may be verbally violent with one another, but often hostility and aggression will take on a physical form (Lyon et al., 2004). Although in some gangs a particular type may be easily distinguished, there is often a blending of gang types within any given Youth gang. Moreover, researchers and others who study gangs tend to be more concerned with categorizing gang types, than are the gang members themselves.No one has developed a satisfactory count of the number of gang members or gangs nationwide. Attempts to do so have been hampered by the variation of the way gangs have been defined from one site to another (Conly et al., 2004). However, it has been reported that Los Angeles County has documented the most gang members and gangs throughout the U.S. (Harris, 2005). Harris (2005) found that there are at least 600 gangs with an estimated 100, 000 gang members operating in Los Angeles County. Homicides committed by gang members currently account for approximately 35% of the homicides in Los Angeles County annually (Rogers, 2004). Throughout the country, some of the most well-known gangs include the "Crips," the "Bloods," the "Vicelords," and the "Latin Kings." The majority of these particular...

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