Gang Violence CIS590- Directed Study Project Dr. Chris Barrett November 23, 2010 Gang Violence 1
Chapter Four Social Problems Associated with Street Gangs Gangs are becoming prevalent in today’s society and within our schools. More and more young people are turning to gangs in an attempt to escape their everyday lives and the future, which they perceive as dismal and bleak. They are initially attracted to the prestige and cash flow, which is glamorized by the street gang. Many gangs are actively involved in criminal misconduct, such as drug and gun trafficking, burglaries and homicides. However, street gangs are not just a criminal justice issue, but a social problem, which is triggered by poverty, peer pressure, boredom, despair and lacking a sense of belonging. A street gang can be defined as “an organized social system that is both quasi-private (not fully open to the public) and quasi-secretive (much of the information concerning its business remains confined with the group) and one whose size and goals have necessitated that social interaction be governed by a leadership structure that has defined roles; where the authority associated with these roles has been legitimized to the extent that social codes are operational to regulate the behavior of both the leadership and the rank and file; that plans and provides not only for the social and economic services of its members, but also for its own maintenance as an organization; that pursues such goals irrespective of whether the action is legal or not; and that lacks a bureaucracy (i.e., an administrative staff that is hierarchically organized and separate from leadership)” (Sanchez-Jankowski 5). This definition encompasses the overall structure of the gang system. It also shows how membership into a gang can be enticing, as there is structure and a sense of belonging within the system. The presence of gangs may be seen or felt everywhere, from large urban cities to smaller rural communities. “Gang members do not represent an invisible empire. They thrive on recognition and are constantly seeking ways to make their presence known or felt” (Walker 1). Gang Violence 2
“According to statistics from the National Youth Gang Center, more than 24,500 gangs, consisting of more than 770,000 members, exist in about 3,300 cities in the U.S.” (Rank 1). Although it is not illegal to be a member of a gang, it should be noted many gangs participate in illegal activity for funding and will use the money as a way to entice new membership. The “money begins flowing, and with that comes all of the things associated with material wealth that is usually beyond the reach of these adolescents without the criminal activity of being involved in a gang” (Nawojczyk 3).
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- Gang, gang violence, National Youth Gang Center, Us Gang