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The Atraction of Gangs

All throughout the cities of America the urban population is plagued with gang activity and gang violence. This is nothing new. The existence of street gangs in this country has existed for many generations. In some neighborhoods you can find three generations of gang members on any given block. During recent years the membership in such organizations has risen and their population has increased. This is exceptionally true in densely populated areas with low-income housing. Our jail systems from juvenile hall all the way up to state penitentiary are filled with such people.

Parents that live in these areas where gang activity is prevalent should be aware. Your children are susceptible to the influences and dangers that these gangs represent. This is most especially true of families with single parents and working mothers. The lack of a nurturing family environment and parental guidance are some of the key factors in being able to recruit a gang member. If your children don t find the love and support that they so desperately need at home, they may have the tendency to seek it elsewhere.

The attraction of belonging to a gang is becoming more popular among our youths. For some people, especially those that have lived in a gang-infested neighborhood for many years, it is unavoidable. For many they see it as their only future. Yet for others the attraction of belonging to a gang stems from loneliness or a need of belonging. These gangs can provide that sense of belonging.

Not only can a gang provide a sense of belonging. They are structured into a closely-knit family like environment. They are ruled by a well-established hierarchy and provide a peer group in which a member can associate with, a group of elders to teach and guide them, and also strong, masculine figures to model themselves after. Their strength is in their unity and they perform rituals that strengthen their bonds of affection towards each other. It’s no wonder that lost souls are prime candidates for recruitment.

Members are required to act, dress and portray themselves in a certain manner. Their identities are formed through their association with each other. Younger members tend to influence each other and emulate the actions of their elders. Senior members delegate authority and provide positive reinforcement. All are required to follow the codes that govern their existence. Penalties for breaking the code are swift and harsh, often requiring blood. Members tend to learn a sense of honor and loyalty, which is taught from the beginning and reinforced on a daily basis. They are given a new name and are taught to have pride in that name. They are also given symbols of honor and courage that they will display publicly with pride. They are taught the skills of soldiering and are treated like men. They learn respect and demand that respect from the world as well as from each other. They begin speaking alike and even develop their own secret codes. In essence they are given new identities and are molded to fit into the lifestyle.

Parents should take special precautions to insure that their children don t fall prey to the influence of gangs in their neighborhood. Although they can t always be with their children or watch them all the time, they should still take the time to know of there whereabouts. They should warn their children of the dangers and take the time to be more involved in their lives. Most importantly parents should provide a loving, nurturing environment at home as well as constant guidance and positive reinforcement. A child is a terrible thing to waste.

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