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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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