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Gangs Essay, Research Paper

GANGS Gangs are a violent reality that people have to deal within 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 thesequestions can only be speculated upon, but in the short termthe answers are much easier to find. On the surface, gangsare a direct result of human beings’ personal wants and peerpressure. To determine how to effectively end gang violence wemust find the way that these morals are given to the individual. Unfortunately, these can only be hypothesized. However, bylooking at the way humans are influenced in society, I believethere is good evidence to point the blame at severalinstitutions. These include the forces of the media, thegovernment, theatre, drugs and our economic system. On the surface, gangs are caused by peer pressure andgreed. Many teens in gangs will pressure peers into becomingpart of a gang by making it all sound glamorous. Money is alsoan crucial factor. A kid (a 6-10 year old, who is not yet amember) is shown that s/he could make $200 to $400 for smallpart time gang jobs. Although these are important factors theyare not strong enough to make kids do things that are stronglyagainst their morals. One of the ways that kids morals are bent so that gangviolence becomes more acceptable is the influence of televisionand movies. The average child spends more time at a TV thanshe/he spends in a classroom. Since nobody can completely turnoff their minds, kids must be learning something while watchingthe TV. Very few hours of television watched by children areeducational, so other ideas are being absorbed during this periodof time. Many shows on television today are extremely violentand are often shown this from a gang’s perspective. A normaladult can see that this is showing how foully that gangs areliving. However, to a child this portrays a violent gangexistance as acceptable. ‘The Ends Justifies the Means’ mentality is also taught through many shows where the “goodyguy” captures the “bad guy” through violence and is then beingcommended. A young child sees this a perfectly acceptablebecause he knows that the “bad guy” was wrong but has no ideaof what acceptable apprehension techniques are. Gore in television also takes a big part in influencingyoung minds. Children see gory scenes and are fascinated bythese things that they have not seen before. Older viewers seegore and are not concerned with the blood but rather with thepain the victim must feel. A younger mind doesn’t make thisconnection. Thus a gore fascination is formed, and has beenseen in several of my peers. Unfortunately kids raised withthis sort of television end up growing up with a strongerpropensity to becoming a violent gang member or ‘violent-acceptant’ person. “Gangs bring the delinquent norms of society intointimate 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 ofthe child quite, often in a gang situation. This is especially thecase when parents don’t spend a lot of time with their kids atthe TV explaining what is right and what is wrong. Quite oftennewer books and some types of music will enforce this type ofthought and ideas. Once this mentality is installed in youngsters they becomeincreasingly prone to being easily pushed into a gang situation byany problem at home or elsewhere. For instance, in poorfamilies with many children or upper-middle class families whereparents are always working, the children will often feel deprivedof love. Parents can often feel that putting food on the tableis enough love. Children of these families may often go to thegang firstly out of boredom and to belong somewhere. As timegoes on, a form of love or kinship develops between the gangmembers and the child. It is then that the bond between thekid and the gang is completed because the gang has effectivelytaken the place of the family. The new anti social structure of cities also effects theease in which a boy/girl can join a gang. ” The formation ofgangs in cities, and most recently in suburbs, is facilitated by

the same lack of community among parents. The parents do notknow what their children are doing for two reasons: First, muchof the parents’ lives is outside the local community, while thechildren’s lives are lived almost totally within it. Second, in afully developed community, the network of relations gives everyparent, in a sense, a community of sentries who can keep himinformed of his child’s activities. In modern living-places (cityor suburban), where such a network is attenuated, he no longerhas such sentries.”2, (Merton Nisbet, 1971). In male gangs problems occur as each is the members triesto be the most manly. This often leads to all membersparticipating in “one-up-manship”. Quite often this will thenlead to each member trying to commit a bigger and more violentcrime or simply more crimes than the others. With all membersparticipating in this sort of activity it makes for a neverending unorganized violence spree (A sort of Clockwork Orangementality). In gangs with more intellegent members thesefeelings end up making each member want to be the star whenthe groups commit a crime. This makes the gang much moreorganized and improves the morale of members which in turnmakes them more dangerous and very hard for the police to dealwith and catch (There is nothing harder to find and deal withthan organized teens that are dedicated to the group). Thissort of gang is usually common of middle or upper class peoplealthough it can happen in gangs in the projects and other lowrent districts too. This “one-up-manship” is often the reason between rivalgangs fighting. All gangs feel powerful and they want to befeared. To do this they try to establish themselves as theonly gang in a certain neighborhood. After a few gang fightshatred forms and gang murders and drive-by’s begin to takeplace. When two gangs are at war it makes life very dangerousfor citizens in the area. Less that 40% of drive-by’s killtheir intended victim yet over 60% do kill someone. This gangapplication is one of the many reasons that sexual sterotypesand pressure to conform to the same must be stopped. Lastly one of the great factors in joining a gang is forprotection. Although from an objective point of view, we cansee joining a gang brings more danger than it saves you from,this is not always the way it is seen by kids. In slums such asthe Bronx or the very worst case, Compton, children will nodoubt be beaten and robbed if they do not join a gang. Ofcourse they can probably get the same treatment from rivalswhen in a gang. The gang also provides some money for thesechildren who quite often need to feed their families. Thereason kids think that the gang will keep them safe is frompropoganda from the gangs. Gang members will say that no onewill get hurt and make a public show of revenge if a member ishurt or killed. People in low rent areas are most often being represseddue to poverty and most importantly, race. This often resultsin an attitude that motivates the person to base his/her lifeon doing what the system that oppresses them doesn’t want. Although this accomplishes little it is a big factor in gangenrollment. So, as you have seen gangs are a product of theenvironment we have created for ourselves. Some of thesefactors include: oppression, the media, greed, violence andother gangs. There seems to be no way to end the problem ofgangs without totally restructuring the modern economy andvalue system. Since the chance of this happening is minimal, wemust learn to cope with gangs and try to keep their followingto a minimum. Unfortunately there is no real organized forceto help fight gangs. Of course the police are supposed to dothis but this situation quite often deals with racial issues alsoand the police forces regularly display their increasing inabilityto deal fairly with these issues. What we need are more peopleto form organizations like the “Guardian Angels” a gang-likegroup that makes life very tough for street gangs that arebreaking laws. BibliographyMargot Webb, Coping with Street Gangs. Rosen Publishing Group,New York, 1990. William Foote Whyte, Street Corner Society. University ofChicago, Chicago, 1955. Peter Carroll, South-Central. Hoyte and Williams, L. A., 1987. 1 Marshall B. Clinard, Sociology of Deviant Behavior. Universityof Wisconsin, Wisconsin, 1963, Page 179. 2 Merton Nisbet, Contempory Social Problems. Harcourt, Brace &World, New York, 1971, Page 588.

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