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A Study of Gangs

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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 and prestigious way to live? The long range answer to these questions can only be speculated upon, but in the short term the answers are much easier to find. On the surface, gangs are a direct result of human beings\' personal wants and peer pressure. To determine how to effectively end gang violence we must find the way that these morals are given to the individual. Unfortunately, these can only be hypothesized. However, by looking at the way humans are influenced in society, I believe there is good evidence to point the blame at several institutions. These include the forces of the media, the government, theatre, drugs and our economic system.

On the surface, gangs are caused by peer pressure and greed. Many teens in gangs

will pressure peers into becoming part of a gang by making it all sound glamorous.

Money is also an crucial factor. A kid (a 6-10 year old, who is not yet a member) is

shown that s/he could make $200 to $400 for small part time gang jobs. Although these

are important factors they are not strong enough to make kids do things that are strongly

against their morals.

One of the ways that kids morals are bent so that gang violence becomes more

acceptable is the influence of television and movies. The average child spends more time

at a TV than she/he spends in a classroom. Since nobody can completely turn off their

minds, kids must be learning something while watching the TV. Very few hours of

television watched by children are educational, so other ideas are being absorbed during

this period of time. Many shows on television today are extremely violent and are often

shown this from a gang\'s perspective. A normal adult can see that this is showing how

foully that gangs are living. However, to a child this portrays a violent gang existence


acceptable. \'The Ends Justifies the Means\' mentality is also taught through many shows

where the \"goody guy\" captures the \"bad guy\" through violence and is then being

commended. A young child sees this a perfectly acceptable because he knows that the

\"bad guy\" was wrong but has no idea 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

viewers see gore and are not concerned with the blood but rather with the pain the victim

must feel. A younger mind doesn\'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 gang

member 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 that violence 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. Quite often

newer books and some types of music will enforce this type of thought and ideas.

Once this mentality is installed in youngsters they become increasingly prone 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 always working, 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 goes on, a

form of love or kinship develops between the gang members and the child. It is then that

the bond between the 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 a boy/girl can

join a gang. \" The formation of gangs in cities, and most recently in suburbs, is facilitated

by the same lack of community among parents. The parents do not know what their

children are doing for two reasons: 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, a

community 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



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