Gangs: A Violent RealityGangs are a violent reality that people have to deal with in today’scities.
What has made these groups come about? Why do kids feel that being ina gang is both an acceptable and prestigious way to live? The long range answerto these questions can only be speculated upon, but in the short term theanswers are much easier to find. On the surface, gangs are a direct result ofhuman beings’ personal wants and peer pressure. To determine how to effectivelyend gang violence we must find the way that these morals are given to theindividual Unfortunately, these can only be hypothesized. However, by looking atthe way humans are influenced in society, I believe there is good evidence topoint the blame at several institutions. These include the forces of the media,the government, theater, drugs and our economic system. On the surface, gangs are caused by peer pressure and greed.Order now
Many teensin 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 notyet a member) is shown that s/he could make $200 to $400 for small part timegang 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 childspends more time at a TV than she/he spends in a classroom. Since nobody cancompletely turn off their minds, kids must be learning something while watchingthe TV. Very few hours of television watched by children are educational, soother ideas are being absorbed during this period of time.
Many shows ontelevision today are extremely violent and are often shown this from a gang’sperspective. A normal adult can see that this is showing how foully that gangsare living. However, to a child this portrays a violent gang existence asacceptable. ‘The Ends Justifies the Means’ mentality is also taught throughmany shows where the “goody guy” captures the “bad guy” through violence and isthen being commended. A young child sees this a perfectly acceptable because heknows that the “bad guy” was wrong but has no idea of what acceptableapprehension 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 notseen before. Older viewers see gore and are not concerned with the blood butrather with the pain the victim must feel. A younger mind doesn’t make thisconnection. Thus a gore fascination is formed, and has been seen in several ofmy peers. Unfortunately kids raised with this sort of television end up growingup with a stronger propensity to becoming a violent gang member or ‘violent-acceptant’ person.
“Gangs bring the delinquent norms of society into intimate contact withthe individual. “1, (Marshall B Clinard, 1963). So, as you can see if TV leads achild to believe that violence is the norm this will manifest itself in theactions of the child quite, often in a gang situation. This is especially thecase when parents don’t spend a lot of time with their kids at the TV explainingwhat is right and what is wrong. Quite often newer books and some types ofmusic 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 orelsewhere. For instance, in poor families with many children or upper-middleclass families where parents are always working, the children will often feeldeprived of love. Parents can often feel that putting food on the table isenough love. Children of these families may often go to the gang firstly out ofboredom and to belong somewhere. As time goes on, a form of love or kinshipdevelops between the gang members and the child.
It is then that the bondbetween the kid and the gang is completed because the gang has effectively takenthe 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 recentlyin suburbs, is facilitated by the same lack of community among parents. Theparents do not know what their children are doing for two reasons: First, muchof the parents’ lives is outside the local community, while the children’s livesare lived almost totally within it.
Second, in a fully developed community, thenetwork of relations gives every parent, in a sense, a community of sentries whocan keep him informed of his child’s activities. In modern living-places (cityor suburban), where such a network is attenuated, he no longer has suchsentries. “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”. Quiteoften this will then lead to each member trying to commit a bigger and moreviolent crime or simply more crimes than the others. With all membersparticipating in this sort of activity it makes for a never ending unorganizedviolence spree (A sort of Clockwork Orange mentality). In gangs with moreintelligent members these feelings end up making each member want to be the starwhen the groups commit a crime. This makes the gang much more organized andimproves the morale of members which in turn makes them more dangerous and veryhard for the police to deal with and catch (There is nothing harder to find anddeal with than organized teens that are dedicated to the group). This sort ofgang is usually common of middle or upper class people although it can happenin gangs in the projects and other low rent districts too.
This “one-up-manship” is often the reason between rival gangs fighting. All gangs feel powerful and they want to be feared. To do this they try toestablish themselves as the only gang in a certain neighborhood. After a fewgang fights hatred forms and gang murders and drive-by’s begin to take place. When two gangs are at war it makes life very dangerous for citizens in the area. Less that 40% of drive-by’s kill their intended victim yet over 60% do killsomeone.
This gang application is one of the many reasons that sexualstereotypes and pressure to conform to the same must be stopped. Lastly one of the great factors in joining a gang is for protection. Although from an objective point of view, we can see joining a gang brings moredanger than it saves you 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 nodoubt be beaten and robbed if they do not join a gang.
Of course they canprobably get the same treatment from rivals when in a gang. The gang alsoprovides some money for these children who quite often need to feed theirfamilies. The reason kids think that the gang will keep them safe is frompropaganda from the gangs. Gang members will say that no one will get hurt andmake 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 motivatesthe person to base his/her life on doing what the system that oppresses themdoesn’t want. Although this accomplishes little it is a big factor in gangenrollment. 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 ofgangs without totally restructuring the modern economy and value system. Sincethe chance of this happening is minimal, we must learn to cope with gangs andtry to keep their following to a minimum. Unfortunately there is no realorganized force to help fight gangs. Of course the police are supposed to dothis but this situation quite often deals with racial issues also and the policeforces regularly display their increasing inability to deal fairly with theseissues.
What we need are more people to form organizations like the “GuardianAngels” a gang-like group 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 of Chicago, Chicago,1955.
Peter Carroll, South-Central. Hoyte and Williams, L. A. , 1987.
1 Marshall B. Clinard, Sociology of Deviant Behavior. University of Wisconsin,Wisconsin, 1963, Page 179. 2 Merton Nisbet, Contempory Social Problems. Harcourt, Brace & World, New York,1971, Page 588.