SOCIALOGICAL THEORIES and GANG VIOLENCE Abstract The sociological analysis of gang membership explores the different types of effects that arise due to criminal involvement. Because of the social conflicts that are associated with gang membership, this paper will explore the different theories of social learning and both personal and control issues that relate to the recent surge in crime across Chicago. As we open the doors of a crime ridden society, the truth begins to unfold. It isn’t Just the thought of helping, it is the action that remains the barrier between living a life of crime or a life that carries hope.
The number of violent encounters has readily declined, yet, violence has flooded the streets of Chicago, Illinois. In 2012 there were over five hundred murders committed in the city of Chicago alone (Lemmer, Bunsinger, & Lurigio, 2008). The desensitization of communities have become more apparent as the acceptance of gang activity has become part of the norm. Observation of vicarious behavior by other social groups suggest that the rationalization of choice is desired, so long as gangs conform bonds across city streets (Lilly,Cullen, & Ball, 2011).
Predicting the future is not too far- fetched, when it comes to socialization. Many theorists suggest that society cant anora acceptance 0T crlme wltnout accepting some responslDlllty Resulting Trom tne absence of internalized rules and regulations, criminal behavior is governed by the justice system (Lilly,Cullen, & Ball, 2011). Stepping deeper into the recent gang activities, that have prevailed in society within Chicago, former Gangster Disciple Harold Ward, speaks of the corruption among leaders in the city and their approval of the cartels from Mexico who have taken over their society as a whole (Pundit, 2013).
Whether people agree or disagree, social disorganization among their neighborhoods s one of the dominant perspectives that defines criminalization of gang members. In order for the decriminalization to occur there needs to be further organized programs within the communities across our nation. I continue to speak of the statistics about Chicago, but there is more than Just one city across the United States that suffer the threat of gang violence every day. According to FBI statistics, there are 1. 4 million active gang members in the United States today.
Statistics show that although gang violence has decreased overall in numbers, it still remains prevalent in many neighborhoods today. Murder rates have soared over the past few years on the streets of Chicago (Lemmer, Bunsinger, & Lurigio, 2008). In fact, in 2012, the city of Chicago had over 400 murders of which 80% is gang related. These murders occurred because of gangs fghting over turf, attempting to uphold their reputation, and retaliation against one another. According to former gang member Harold “Noonie” Ward, the violence on the streets of Chicago stem from the Mexican drug cartels.
He believes that the city of Chicago has become a haven for these cartels to place their people. Even though many of the higher ranking members of the gangs re locked up, the mass amount of drugs entering Chicago has not seized. Noonie believes that there are many officials who are profiting from the drugs that are being brought in and thus refusing to make it stop (Pundit, 2013). News reports show that in Chicago alone there are 100,000 gang members per every 12,000 police officers (Rosenzweig, 2013). These are obvious numbers that outweigh one another.
On a national level 40% of all homicides (in major cities) were gang related and in 2011 gang members were responsible for 61% of homicides. The average age of gang members ranges from sixteen to nineteen, but some members are as young as hirteen. There was a 25% increase in gang activity in Chicago from 2009-2012 (Rosenzweig, 2013). The idea of violence and deviance has been long misunderstood. There have been several theorist that have taken their knowledge and created their own ideology of why an individual turns to violence as a way of life.
Based on Ronald Akers ideology of social learning theory, many people commit crimes based on the observations they encounter. These observations can come from a number of sources such as, media, family, and peers. Family and friends as well as the social norms of a neighborhood can be influential to an individual because of cceptance. This theory also says that based on positive or negative reinforcements an individual’s behavior will be based on the rewards or punishments that are given.
If given an opportunity to change the violence that occurs among neighborhoods there are many who choose to do so (Akers, 1990). Social control and social learning both suggest that behavior is a choice based . However, when looking at the two theories they actually take a different stance. Social learning theory suggests that individuals Join gangs to feel that sense of security as well as living the glamorized IITestyle ana tnelr attempt to Till tne vola 0T an aosent parent. Soclal learning tneory Is best stated as learned behavior based on the environmental and social attachment that one has to a community.
Social learning is telling us that people have a choice to make a rationalized decision based on their observations of others, but remain adamant to state that their interactions with the social surroundings will be taken into consideration as well (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 2011). Social and personal Control, by Reiss suggest that deviant behavior is based on the bond that one shares with their social surroundings. An individual’s defiance through socialization is questioned when determining how an individual reacts to the commitment that they have to their social surroundings.
It also says that being a disappointment to their peers is a prominent indication of social control (Russell, 2006). An individual at this level will continue to be involved in a certain behavior as long as the social environment in which they encounter continues to be a believer of moral acceptance. Social behavior based on any given neighborhood can be predicted in theory, but having the ability to predict the factual outcome of a situation is implausible. Statistical facts give us an idea of the average range of where the violence is heading, but there are ways to change that (Chibnal & Abbruzzese, 2004).
Gang violence is not a limited issue, it is prevalent within many types of neighborhoods and different social classes. As much as we want to believe that the gangs are only in bad areas, we can’t provide proof of just that. Sure there may be more gangs in a certain area based on the economical status, but that doesn’t make it nonexistent for the high class. The flourishment of gangs in certain areas has been taken out of existence. A community must allow for esources to be allocated to prevent criminal activity among those involved. Another reason that people Join gangs is for financial security (Wyrick & Howell, 2004).
We can help those who are having a hard time by providing resources that place them into a work program. I believe the most impact that we can have is on those individuals who are young. They have more of a chance at changing. If a child is taught wrong from right and values are instilled within them then they are going to being to see hope. Many of the youth have come from broken homes, so the lack of support is there. Providing these youth with programs to help keep them motivated at doing good and being there for the youth will remain a big impact.
Because we would be providing these youth will positive incentives for their behavior they are going to feel that security to continue to come back. Someone has to be the voice of these children, and I feel that mentoring programs would be beneficial to deterring future criminal activity and gang involvement. The theories suggest that prevention is a number one deterrent of crime. In order for individuals to begin prevention systems and networks of social awareness needs to be instilled. Values and morals need to be taught when they are young.
Motivation and goal orientation can help as well. The community needs to target youth in order to prevent future gang involvement. There are so many ways that prevention can occur that the numbers are astonishing. Even if one person from every home across the entire world donated one dollar, a fund could be created to help programs who do those things (Chibnal & Abbruzzesse, 2004). People need to be aware of the social situations that surround them. Don’t Just accept it because it is a norm for your area, do something that helps to prevent it.
Parents, pend that quality time with your kids, even if it is five minutes, that to me is better tnan none. In 0T preventlon Is great, out nas It wor ea K tnus Tar:’ I n of Chicago has a program that is called Seize Fire. Members of the program are those who have been a part of the gang life. This group of individuals have lived lives among those who were a part of the street life. Many of them came from broken homes where the influences of violence strived. Several of the individuals were former gang members, and as part of the gang life, murderers.
This group goes out into the community, among those who are less fortunate, and try to get them to ealize that there are other alternatives to violent behavior. They risk their lives to help individuals who want to get away from the gang life to get back on their feet and into the community. They have given people hope when they felt there was none left Games & Kotlowitz, 2012). There are programs that are out there that help Juveniles to get the education that they need in order for them to be successful. They give youth the opportunity to be the youth that they deserve to be.
These programs are successful if there are those willing to commit to the cause. Helping out the neighborhoods is another great way to deter crime. There are people who go to the “ghetto’ and clean up the streets. They have volunteers go through and paint over graffiti, people go out and clean the houses up so they are more desirable to reside in, they help those who can’t afford to fix thing by going in and doing it for them. There are also programs aimed at helping individuals get Jobs and find resources to help them succeed. If there is Just one person out there that can give a hand that is one more person than they had before.
A fund could be put into place by the community to help raise money to pay for better things, such as books and games for the kids to play. These theories also suggest that most delinquent behavior is caused by a lack of monitoring. So, let’s get a program open for kids to go to when the parents are gone. The internalization of values and moral could be taught to those through these programs (Chibnal & Abbruzzese, 2004). From a criminal Justice perspective there are institutionalizations that take place due to misguided behavior. I believe that instead of institutionalizing everyone that we form a specific program catered to their needs.
If someone needed food, for example, and they were walking through a grocery store and stole someone’s wallet, instead of having them arrested, o the right thing and offer to buy their groceries for them. This is an example of reinforcement. You don’t know if they have starving kids at home, but what you do know is that they were hungry and they had no other means to get the food, except to steal. People seem to forget that we are fghting a battle from within our own country of poverty and that high risk people are those among this group.
Most of the violence that we see on the streets is caused for stupid reasons. There are people who are feeling ostracized, so they choose to dominate their surroundings rather than fall ictim to it. We need to provide neutral grounds for those people less fortunate than ourselves. There needs to be a reduction of internal stressors that are causing these individuals to act the way they do, and the only way to do it is help (Chibnal & Abbruzzese, 2004). There are programs within the Justice system that helps families who are struggling to find the resources that are available to them.
There are specific programs that are available to those who are incarcerated to reduce gangs, but let’s make this a requirement. Let us require tnat Prooatlon omcers to spend more time witn robationers and concentrate on the positive impacts that individuals have made in their lives. Youth and adult violence programs that are during incarceration should also be a requirement upon release of the offender. There needs to be programs that help those who are being released from Jail or prison or youth services, to help them establish proper bonds and essential necessities within their neighboring areas to provide that sense of security.
Having the inmate go to a program that is more specific to their crimes may be a good way to get them to understand what to do if put in the same situation. Having intervention specialists go to the centers or prisons and address those who are involved in gangs to see the potential they have. The criminal Justice system should focus more on helping those in need instead of Just giving them more time in prison because once they go to prison they are going to do what they have to do to survive that world (Chibnal & Abbruzzese, 2004).
Ronald Akers and Albert Reiss may have walked into their theories with a different thinking, however after being researched, there were many areas in which both criminal justice and sociological connections bonded them as theorists. A social bond within a community, a fght to uphold their reputation, and being able to feel a sense of closeness within the refined “family’ individuals Join gangs. Having the internalization of morals and guidance provides a foundation for those who are willing to give up the street life.
The likelihood of reducing criminal activity among rural streets is not Just going to happen in one day, but it is going to take time and effort by a community who is willing and able to make a change. As we have looked into the two theories we have learned that indirectly they have an effect on one another. Crime and delinquency results from the lack of parenting , the lack of rules and regulations, unconfirmed social systems that emphasize morals, and established conformity among a community. In order for a community to be able to employ acceptance of techniques and measures as a whole there needs to be some sort of trust in the community.
Safety needs to be among the highest of priorities (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 2011). Gang members need help realizing the impact they have on the community. They need to know that their behaviors are a part of a vicious cycle that will continue to trickle down from one generation to the next. Gang members need to be reminded that there is a chance at change, and it can start with Just one person. The overall aspect of the theories is that if we enable children to learn in better environments, provide sufficient education, and instill values and morals to them at a young age, that we may be able to prevent them from conforming to gang life.
Criminal Justice response needs to outweigh the bad with the good. They need to provide offenders with the stability they need before they are released back into the community. Young offenders need to be nourished and taught right from wrong in a egal perspective. Offenders need to be able to have to opportunity at change before they are Just thrown back out there with no security, no support, and no insight to how the current economy survives. Sociological reasons to crime can be defined in many different manners, but to Just accept them as the norm needs to be taken out as an option to these communities (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 2011).
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