2003lorc.pdf - Factors Leading Youth To Gang 1 FACTORS LEADING HMONG YOUTH TO JOIN GANG By Kevin C Lor A Research Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

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Unformatted text preview: Factors Leading Youth To Gang 1 FACTORS LEADING HMONG YOUTH TO JOIN GANG By Kevin C. Lor A Research Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Master of Education Degree With a Major in Guidance and Counseling-Mental Health & K-12 Approved: Two Semester Credits ___________________ Investigation Advisor The Graduate College University of Wisconsin-Stout September, 2003 The Graduate College University of Wisconsin-Stout Menomonie, Wisconsin 54751 Abstract Factors Leading Youth To Gang 2 Lor (Last Name) Kevin (First) C. (Initial) Factors Leading Hmong Youth to Join Gangs (Title) Guidance and Counseling-Mental Health & K-12, Dr. Louis Milanesi, 9/03 , 52 (Graduate major) (Research Advisor) (Date) (Page) American Psychological Association Manual Used in this Study This paper examines some of the elements that lead youth to join gangs. A questionnaire developed by the investigator was distributed to gang members and at-risk Hmong youth in two northern states. This questionnaire was developed in an attempt to assess some of the factors that have a high probability of leading youth to join gangs to compensate for what is lacking in Hmong youths' life. A 12-item questionnaire was developed and distributed to at-risk Hmong youths residing in two northern states. The questions were examined by calculating the percentage of males and females responding to different targeted areas. The questions were also examined to determine the internal validity between male and female subjects in responding to the different targeted areas. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Factors Leading Youth To Gang 3 I would like to thank all those people involved in helping me finish my research. First and foremost, I would like to thank my research advisor, Dr. Louis Milanesi, for his patience and dedication to helping me complete my thesis. Second, I would like to express my deep appreciation to both Dave Schibline and Jeff Jenswold for their willingness to help. They both were great mentors who were incredibly patient and understanding throughout the whole process Third, I would like to thank my brother, Tou, for believing in me and always giving me positive encouragement. He has remained a constant source of support and encouragement through thick and thin. Fourth, I would like to thank my girlfriend for her tireless effort and dedication in helping me during the data collection. All of your contributions, support, and encouragement are greatly appreciated. Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank the UW-Stout Graduate College and Research Promotion Services for the student research grant. The grant helped cover some of my travel expenses and the duplication costs for this study. TABLE OF CONTENTS Factors Leading Youth To Gang 4 Title Page 1 Abstract 2 Acknowledgements 3 Table of Contents 4 Chapter 1: Introduction 6 Statement of the Problem 11 Definition of Terms 12 Chapter II: Review of Literature 14 Definition of Gang 14 Gang Structure and Membership 16 Gang Initiation 19 Individual 19 Low Self-Esteem 20 Family 21 School 24 Neighborhood 24 Economy 25 Media and Politic 26 Intelligence 26 TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued) Factors Leading Youth To Gang 5 Asian Gang 27 Chapter III: Methodology 32 Population and Subjects 32 Instrumentation 32 Data Collection 32 Data Analysis 34 Limitations 34 Chapter IV: Results 35 Findings 35 Tables 36-46 Chapter V: Conclusion 47 Recommendations 48 References 51 Chapter I Factors Leading Youth To Gang 6 Introduction A dramatic increase in gang activity during the past decade caught most everyone by surprise and left many unprepared to speak in an informed way to the challenge it posed. However, violence in America is nothing new. Even before the Nation declared its independence, outlaw groups with names like "The Sons of Liberty" formed in several colonial towns to express their opposition to the British rule (Brantley & DiRosa, 1994). As the nation grew, gangs emerged in the large urban centers that developed in the mid-west and on the west coast. Cities as diverse as Chicago and San Francisco have long histories of gang-related crimes (Di Rosa, 1994). European immigrants came to the United States in the early 1900s to seek a better life and better future. These immigrants lacked the skills necessary to be productive in the mainstream and were exploited in the labor force and faced poverty and discrimination. The second generation of these immigrants were faced with cultural and identity crises. They then formed their own gangs for support and protection because they did not fit into the mainstream society (Wang, 1994). This is a pattern with every wave of immigrants who came to the United States. They all faced similar experiences of poverty and discrimination. After a couple of generations in America, most of the immigrants assimilated into the mainstream; and the problems became less severe. In the early 1900s, the United States government established immigration priority and granted many Chinese naturalization in America when it received a flood of Chinese immigrants Factors Leading Youth To Gang 7 into the United States. The number of Chinese immigrants grew dramatically in the 1960s as a result of this new law. Large cities where immigrants settled were not prepared to assist with the problems these immigrants brought with them. Many of the Chinese youths experienced racial tension in the form of unequal treatment and opportunity; therefore, crime and gang involvement became a serious problem for the communities. Many of those Chinese youths started to form social support groups but later became involved in prostitution, drug dealing, and other criminal activities (Spergel, 1992). Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the United States has received over a million refugees from the Southeast Asian countries. These immigrants had very little education and limited labor skills. These refugees found themselves in a strange society where they were not accepted due to their unique physical characteristics and their lack of productive labor market skills. One such group of refugee from one of those Southeast Asian countries is the Hmong. The Hmong is an ethnic minority group that helped the United States fight the spread of communism during the Vietnam War. In 1975, the communists won the war in Vietnam. The Hmong were persecuted in Laos because of their involvement with the United States Central Intelligent Agency (CIA). Many fled to neighboring Thailand to avoid being persecuted. As the years went by, many Hmong decided to settle in different countries, such as the United States, France, Australia, and many other western countries. The largest group of Hmong settled in the United States. The three states that received the most number of Hmong refugees are California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Factors Leading Youth To Gang 8 Historically, the Hmong people lived in a society where there was very restricted educational opportunity for Hmong children. For many Hmong boys to have opportunities to learn to read and write, they had to go to far away educational settings. While boys were encouraged by parents to pursue high levels of education, the Hmong girls were expected to forego their education to take care of the family and the farms. As Hmong re-settled in the United States and other countries, educational opportunities improved for Hmong children. Hmong parents continued to have high expectations for their children. However, some Hmong children were not prepared to start school, because the family did not speak English in the home. Many children struggled in school, because many Hmong parents simply did not have the necessary skills to prepare their children for school. Many Hmong children also struggled in learning how to balance the two very different cultures and values on a daily basis. Those Hmong children who had supportive parents who understood what they were going through seemed to be better off educationally than the rest. Hmong children who had supportive parents with a good social support system also seemed to have a better footing toward pursuing their dreams. Hmong people consider love, respect, and helping each other to be the highest values in their society. Traditionally, Hmong children are taught from an early age to respect their elders and authority figures. Those not following the norms and expectation are viewed as unwise and are regarded as self-centered individuals. The decisions of an individual are to be reflected on the well being of the whole group rather than an individual interest. Factors Leading Youth To Gang 9 As Hmong children worked their way into the U.S. educational system, they learned that the mainstream culture has a different value system than that was taught to them by their parents. Many Hmong children were lost in the shuffle between the two different belief systems. Like most immigrants, the Hmong feel conflict between new and traditional values in the U.S. At school, children are American; but at home, Hmong children are in another totally different world. Many Hmong parents worry about their children losing their traditional family values. At the same time, they know that they must encourage their children to go to school and adapt to the new culture in order to be successful. More and more Hmong children are rebelling against their parents. This is partly due to the pressure to do well in school and the pressure from parents to maintain their traditional values. The younger Hmong generations found themselves caught between two starkly different cultures. They struggle to honor their heritage and traditions while taking advantage of rights to independence and choice in the United States. Consequently, they sought love and support from gangs who understood and accepted them for who they were. At the same time, the older Hmong refugees found themselves distanced from their own children. These older refugees felt disrespected and not valued by their children due to their cultural differences. This research will describe several possible causal factors that put Southeast Asian (Hmong) youths in such a high-risk group to join gangs. This researcher hopes that by becoming more aware and understanding of the characteristics that most likely influence youth to join Factors Leading Youth To Gang 10 gangs will help social services personnel and other professionals forge effective prevention and intervention programs that will help Southeast Asian youth become law abiding citizens. There is very little research investigating Southeast Asian youth posing a serious problem to the community. This is, in part, due to the fact that professionals know very little about assessing these kids and how to deal with them effectively. In order for the community and the professionals to help solve the problems, they must have some knowledge of the core issues. Since there was very little research on this group of youth, professionals and other community agencies may not know how to best utilize their resources to help these youth and prevent them from becoming criminals. A review of the literature shows that youth who are from families that have adequate incomes generally possess an ability to adopt a future-time perspective, have access to good role models, receive love and support from parents, and feel welcome by their communities. Consequently, these youth are less likely to join gangs. Research also shows that the majority of Hmong youth are not from well-to-do family households. They are less likely to adopt a future-time perspective, because they are caught between two very different cultures. They have very few good role models and feel unappreciated by their parents and their communities. Therefore, the research hypothesis for this study is that the responses for the majority of the Hmong-American youth will support the theory that most youth identify positively to characteristics that lead to gang involvement. Statement of Problem Factors Leading Youth To Gang 11 The purpose of this study is to examine some of the social factors that are more likely to influence Hmong youth to join gangs as measured by individual reports obtained through field surveys in two northern states. This study will focus on the following objectives: 1. To determine and describe the motives that influence youth to join gang. 2. To determine and describe the opinions of Hmong youth toward gang and sex. 3. To determine and describe whether Hmong youth view illegal activities as an essential part of the gang culture. 4. To determine and describe how Hmong youth perceive the love and affection their parents give to them compared to the love and affection their siblings receive from their parents. 5. To determine and describe whether Hmong youth want their siblings to join a gang. 6. To determine and describe whether Hmong youth gang members use active recruitment procedures. 7. To determine and describe whether Hmong youth gang members are required to recruit new members. Definition of Terms Factors Leading Youth To Gang 12 Evolution: The development, process, or change of form through time. Gang: Group of people with a common purpose who join for various reasons, including illegal activities and tend to display anti-social behavior against the rest of society. "1: A group of persons working together. 2: A group of persons working to unlawful or antisocial ends" (Webster 9th New Collegiate Dictionary). Hmong: An ethnic group from Southeast Asian (primarily Laos) who had many members flee Laos as refugees during and following the Vietnam War. Racism: The belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial difference produces an inherent superiority of a particular race. Prejudice: 1. a. An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the fact. b. A preconceived preference or idea; bias. 2. The fact act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments or convictions. 3. Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion. 4. Detriment or injury caused to a person by the preconceived and unfavorable conviction of another or others (Webster's 9th New Collegiate Dictionary). Discrimination: 1. The act of discriminating. 2. The ability or power to see or make fine distinctions; discernment. 3. An act based on prejudice (Webster's 9th New Collegiate Dictionary). Laib: 1. A habitual criminal. 2. A disobedient or disrespectful person. 3. A person who commits unlawful action that violates the rights of others. Factors Leading Youth To Gang 13 Chapter II Factors Leading Youth To Gang 14 Review of Literature This section will discuss some issues and the possible causal factors that lead youth into gang. Research shows that antisocial behavior evolves over the course of childhood, often beginning in the preschool and elementary school years and peaking in late adolescent/early adulthood. Research also shows that memberships of gangs were drawn from a fairly broad spectrum of ages, and the size and age profile of gang changes over time. According to Cummings, most gangs are composed of persons of the same race or nationality (Cummings & Monti, 1993). Definition of Gang There appear to be no single definition for gang due to the fact that they come in a variety of forms. Here are some of the definitions research scholars attempted to use to define gang: Thrasher (1936) defined gang as, "An interstitial group originally formed spontaneously and then integrated through conflict, and characterized by meeting face to face, milling, movement through space as a unit, conflict and planning. The behavior develops a tradition, unreflective internal structure, esprit de corps, solidarity, group awareness, and attachment to a local territory." (Thrasher, 1936). However, the definition of gang has changed over the years. For instance, Klein defined gang as any notable adolescent group of youngsters who are: 1. Generally perceived as a distinct aggregation by others in their neighborhood. 2. Recognize themselves as a notable group (almost invariably with a group name). Factors Leading Youth To Gang 15 3. Have been involved in a sufficient number of delinquent incidents to call forth a consistent negative response from neighborhood residents and/or law enforcement agencies (Klein, 1971). Walter B. Miller defined a gang as "a self-formed association of peers bound together by mutual interests. A gang has an identifiable leadership, well-developed lines of authority, and other organizational features who act in concert to achieve a specific purpose or purposes which generally include the conduct of illegal activity and control over a particular territory, facility, or type of enterprise (Miller, 1980). Yet, some of the current definitions of gang seem to reflect the description given by C. Ronald Huff. He stated that what separates a gang from other adolescent groups are: 1. The gang regular routines involve in illegal activities. 2. More deliberate quality of these illegal activities by the group. 3. A greater tendency to claim some forms of "turf" (although for more recent gang, this "turf" is not necessarily neighborhood based). 4. They have generally, better-developed leadership within the group (Huff, 1990). Other scholars, as well as educators, define gang as any group of people who engage in socially disruptive or criminal behavior. They are usually territorial, often but not always of the same gender, and operate by creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in a community. The gang may choose a name, logo, specific color, or method of dress used for purposes of identification for their own members and their Factors Leading Youth To Gang 16 counterparts. They will have some form of leadership and a method of operation and recruitment. Schools have become a breeding ground for gang, and this can have a tremendous negative impact on the learning environment. Gang should be taken seriously and dealt with swiftly ( ). Gang Structure and Membership There are different types of gangs existing in many countries in the world. The structure of a particular gang is based on the needs for group maintenance or development. Some gangs are viewed as loose knit, and others are well organized. According to Thrasher (1936), it is possible that the loosely knit characterization refers to process, while the well-organized characterization refers to gang structure, form, or longevity of the gang (Thrasher, 1936). Within each type of gang, there are certain roles required to be performed by each member according to the position within the gang. For example, the core members may be regarded as an inner clique that is actively engaged in everyday functioning of the gang. Also, core members may make key decisions, set standards, and provide support and sanction for the action of leaders. They may also be the key recruiters for the gang (Reiss, 1987). It is important to recognize that there are, however, many groups of people, such as core members, wannabes, and non-members, who are also involved in a particular gang. The peripheral members are those who do not recognize or are not recognized by others as members of the gang but may enjoy having some type of association, such as attending gang events or gathering with the gang. The "wannabes" are generally younger in age and are potential members of the gang. The potential Factors Leading Youth To Gang 17 new members of the gang are the targets or efforts by core or regular members to increase the size of the gang (Collins, 1979). Joining a gang may vary from one gang to the next. In most cases, once a "wannabe" joins the gang, he/she usually goes through some kind of gang initiations, which will be elucidated later. The youth may graduate from a lower status to a higher status as they mature into the gang culture. However, they may also shift from core to peripheral roles and bac...
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