A person’s behavior is influenced by biological and environmental factors. As such, membership to a gang is a significant factor that can shape an individual’s behavior. Since gangs are more likely to be involved in criminal and antisocial behaviors, an individual who is a member of the gang gets influenced to acquire antisocial and criminal behaviors. This paper examines the influence of gang on individual behavior. The intrinsic and extrinsic factors involved in this relationship are highlighted.
The paper also looks at influence of gang membership on individual behavior by providing examples of behavior in gang members versus non-gang members. The paper concludes by asserting that membership to a gang causes an individual to acquire antisocial behaviors. Introduction Human behavior is determined by both biological and environmental factors. The environmental influence of individual behavior is significant when considering members of a certain group which shares common beliefs and allegiance.
The fact that interacting with deviant peers tend to increase deviance in individuals is a clear indicator that group membership affects individual behavior (Gifford-Smith et al, 2005). Belonging to a group is one of the factors that shape individual behavior and ought to be considered when analyzing individual behavior. Gang membership has an influence of the behavior of individuals belonging to the gang whether considered at the current membership or past membership.
A gang is a group of not less than three individuals who are bound together by an allegiance and the group is involved in unlawful behaviors. As such, gang membership is undoubtedly a great force that influences the behavior of individual members. These influences are mainly in line with the gang culture and the activities the gang is involved in. In addition, both intrinsic and extrinsic factors shape the influence of gang on individual behavior. Gang influence on individual behavior
Before exploring the influence of gang on individual behavior, it is worth looking into some common characteristics and behaviors associated with gangs. Although most of the activities that gangs will get involved in are not unique to what the mainstream society does, there are peculiar things that are common amongst gangs (Decker, 2000). A marked difference is the component of violence and criminal behaviors amongst gang members whenever they engage in mainstream activities.
Confrontations between rival gangs are a common phenomenon which involves assaults and other serious violence such as drive-by shooting. Other criminal activities to be identified with gangs include illicit drug trade, auto theft, robbery, vandalism and extortion. Gang graffiti is a common gang identity that signifies a gang territory, gang power and gang allegiance (GGIA, 2010). The violence and criminal behaviors found in gangs are mainly aimed at instilling fear to rivals and residents as well as intimidating rivals.
The rivals may be other gangs or any other member of the society who is not a member of the gang. Also notable about gangs is that most of the times there is no identified leader. As such, the toughest person, based on factors such as possession of money or committing toughest crimes, is considered the leader. Being involved is an exposure into a network that is bound to affect ones behavior as determined by the forces of the network. This is because the networks in a person’s life influence a person’s behavior.
In fact “the more persuasive a network is in a person’s life, the more powerful the effect it has on his or her behavior” (Battin-Pearson et al, 1998, p 5). By belonging to a certain gang, one must readjust to the demands and the conduct of the group. DeLisi and Conis (2007) indicate that individuals who join gangs have to find ways of acquiring social status within the gang. To achieve such a status, an individual is compelled to engage in offending behavior. The expectations of membership in a particular gang directly imply that an individual’s behavior must be reshaped to fit into the expectations.
Even the mere introduction into the gang is enough to change an individual’s perceptions and behavior in general. For instance, DeLisi and Conis (2007, p 148) mentions that joining membership to a street gang may involve being “beaten in” which an individual takes to mean that their interactions must be violent. A gang member who has the perception that his interactions must be violent is likely to possess weapons such as guns which to them they are for self-defense from being attacked or intimidated by other gangs while others will possess such weapons for status purposes.