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Gangs are a violent reality that people have to deal with in today’s cities.What has made these

groups come about? Why do kids feel that being in a gang is both an acceptable andprestigious

way to live? The long range answer to these questions can only be speculated upon, but in the

shortterm the answers are much easier to find. On the surface, gangs are a direct result of human

beings’ personal wants andpeer pressure. To determine how to effectively end gang violence we

must find the way that these morals aregiven to the individual. Unfortunately, these can only be

hypothesized. However, by looking at the way humans areinfluenced in society, I believe there is

good evidence to point the blame at several institutions. These include theforces of the media, the

government, theatre, drugs and our economic system. On the surface, gangs are caused by peer

pressure and greed. Manyteens in gangs will pressure peers into becoming part of a gang by

making it all soundglamorous. Money is also an crucial factor. A kid (a 6-10 year old, who is not

yet a member) is shown that s/he couldmake $200 to $400 for small part time gang jobs.

Although these are important factors they are not strong enough tomake kids do things that are

strongly against their morals. One of the ways that kids morals are bent so that gang violence

becomesmore acceptable is the influence of television and movies. The average child spends more

time at a TV thanshe/he spends in a classroom. Since nobody can completely turn off their minds,

kids must be learning something whilewatching the TV. Very few hours of television watched by

children are educational, so other ideas are beingabsorbed during this period of time. Many shows

on television today are extremely violent and are often shown thisfrom a gang’s perspective. A

normal adult can see that this is showing how foully that gangs are living. However, to achild this

portrays a violent gang existance as acceptable. ‘The Ends Justifies the Means’ mentality is

alsotaught through many shows where the “goody guy” captures the “bad guy” through violence

and is then beingcommended. A young child sees this a perfectly acceptable because he knows

that the “bad guy” was wrong but has noidea of what acceptable apprehension techniques are.

Gore in television also takes a big part in influencing young minds.Children see gory scenes and

are fascinated by these things that they have not seen before. Older viewerssee gore and are not

concerned with the blood but rather with the pain the victim must feel. A younger minddoesn’t

make this connection. Thus a gore fascination is formed, and has been seen in several of my

peers.Unfortunately kids raised with this sort of television end up growing up with a stronger

propensity to becoming a violent gangmember or ‘violent- acceptant’ person. “Gangs bring the

delinquent norms of society into intimate contact with the individual.”1, (Marshall B Clinard,

1963). So, as you can see if TV leads a child to believe thatviolence is the norm this will manifest

itself in the actions of the child quite, often in a gang situation. This is especially the case when

parents don’t spend a lot of time with their kids at the TV explaining what is right and what is

wrong. Quiteoften newer books and some types of music will enforce this type of thought and

ideas. Once this mentality is installed in youngsters they become increasinglyprone to being easily

pushed into a gang situation by any problem at home or elsewhere.For instance, in poor families

with many children or upper-middle class families where parents are alwaysworking, the children

will often feel deprived of love. Parents can often feel that putting food on the table is enough

love.Children of these families may often go to the gang firstly out of boredom and to belong

somewhere. As time goeson, a form of love or kinship develops between the gang members and

the child. It is then that the bond betweenthe kid and the gang is completed because the gang has

effectively taken the place of the family. The new anti social structure of cities also effects the

ease in which aboy/girl can join a gang. ” The formation of gangs in cities, and most recently in

suburbs, is facilitated bythe same lack of community among parents. The parents do not know

what their children are doing for tworeasons: First, much of the parents’ lives is outside the local

community, while the children’s lives are lived almost totally within it. Second, in a fully

developed community, the network of relations gives every parent, in a sense, acommunity of

sentries who can keep him informed of his child’s activities. In modern living-places (city or

suburban), where such a network is attenuated, he no longer has such sentries.”2, (Merton Nisbet,

1971). In male gangs problems occur as each is the members tries to be the mostmanly. This often

leads to all members participating in “one-up-manship”. Quite often this will then leadto each

member trying to commit a bigger and more violent crime or simply more crimes than the others.

With allmembers participating in this sort of activity it makes for a never ending unorganized

violence spree (A sort ofClockwork Orange mentality). In gangs with more intellegent members

these feelings end up making each member want tobe the star when the groups commit a crime.

This makes the gang much more organized and improves the morale ofmembers which in turn

makes them more dangerous and very hard for the police to deal with and catch (There isnothing

harder to find and deal with than organized teens that are dedicated to the group). This sort of

gang isusually common of middle or upper class people although it can happen in gangs in the

projects and other low rent districtstoo. This “one-up-manship” is often the reason between rival

gangs fighting. Allgangs feel powerful and they want to be feared. To do this they try to establish

themselves as the onlygang in a certain neighborhood. After a few gang fights hatred forms and

gang murders and drive-by’s begin to takeplace. When two gangs are at war it makes life very

dangerous for citizens in the area. Less that 40% of drive-by’s killtheir intended victim yet over

60% do kill someone. This gang application is one of the many reasons that sexual sterotypes and

pressure to conform to the same must be stopped. Lastly one of the great factors in joining a gang

is for protection. Althoughfrom an objective point of view, we can see joining a gang brings more

danger than it savesyou from, this is not always the way it is seen by kids. In slums such as the

Bronx or the very worst case,Compton, children will no doubt be beaten and robbed if they do

not join a gang. Of course they can probably get thesame treatment from rivals when in a gang.

The gang also provides some money for these children who quite often needto feed their families.

The reason kids think that the gang will keep them safe is from propoganda from the gangs.Gang

members will say that no one will get hurt and make a public show of revenge if a member is hurt

or killed. People in low rent areas are most often being repressed due to povertyand most

importantly, race. This often results in an attitude that motivates the person to base his/her life

ondoing what the system that oppresses them doesn’t want. Although this accomplishes little it is

a big factor in gang enrollment. So, as you have seen gangs are a product of the environment we

havecreated for ourselves. Some of these factors include: oppression, the media, greed, violence

and other gangs.There seems to be no way to end the problem of gangs without totally

restructuring the modern economy and valuesystem. Since the chance of this happening is

minimal, we must learn to cope with gangs and try to keep their followingto a minimum.

Unfortunately there is no real organized force to help fight gangs. Of course the police

aresupposed to do this but this situation quite often deals with racial issues also and the police

forces regularly display theirincreasing inability to deal fairly with these issues. What we need are

more people to form organizations like the “Guardian Angels” a gang-like group that makes life

very tough for street gangs that are breaking laws. THE END by Anh Phu Bibliography Margot

Webb, Coping with Street Gangs. Rosen Publishing Group, NewYork, 1990. William Foote

Whyte, Street Corner Society. University of Chicago,Chicago, 1955. Peter Carroll, South-

Central. Hoyte and Williams, L. A., 1987. 1 Marshall B. Clinard, Sociology of Deviant Behavior.

University ofWisconsin, Wisconsin, 1963, Page 179. 2 Merton Nisbet, Contempory Social

Problems. Harcourt, Brace &World, New York, 1971, Page 588. America On Line, search egines

for Lycos , Web Crawler, Yahoo , for internet topics to sites


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