Gangs have been a part of The United States for many years and the increase in gang affiliation continues to rise. As the increase in gang populations rises, gang criminal activity also begins to rise. The community and the criminal justice system must continue to make every effort to join together to minimize and decrease gang populations A gang is a group of people using a unique name and identifiable marks or symbols who claim a territory or turf as their own (Mays, Gangs and Gang Behavior). Although this is majority agreed upon definitions, definition of what a gang is can sometimes be complex because of continous definition reform.
Gangs today have caused tremendous damage to communities by their criminal behavior that varies from minor graffiti all the way up to murder. Some gangs are now very complex criminal organizations, which deal in weapons trafficking, gambling, drug use or distribution, and robbery (Mays, Gangs and Gang Behavior). These gangs conduct these types of criminal behavior to increase profits for their gangs to help them to grow and become more powerful. For many gangs they seek to be the most powerful, the largest, and be respected. Often times one of the leading causes of controversy between rival gangs is gang turf or territory.
Drug crimes are also popular within some gangs. As the National Center for Victims of crimes points out, “Gangs today are involved in a wide variety of crimes; their influence on the flow of drugs into our schools and communities has resulted in additional social problems (Gangs in America). Individuals are now joining gangs at young ages and this has become a concern for much of society. A problem leading to increased youth gang activity and criminal behavior is a lack of parenting or family oriented ties for some youth. Research indicates that youths join gangs for different reasons around the world.
They join gangs because they have a need for power, their friends are in a gang, they feel neglected, and others protect them in the gang (Mays, Gangs and Gang Behavior). The camaraderie and the excitement of gang life, has been driving a recent jump in gang membership and criminal activity across certain areas of the United States. Statistics show that an estimated seven percent of youth, and who are gang affiliated are responsible for 70 percent of juvenile crimes (Gangs in America). Many gang members have joined a gang just to get power and respect from their peers.
Some experts believe that peer pressure is one of the most influencing factors to why some youth become involved with gangs a youth. For example: Friends, classmates, and family members who are already in a gang, may pressure a person to join a gang. Parents must make it their obligation to pay attention to signs of gang involvement in their children. e parents should spend more quality time with their child, talk to their child more often, and be a good role model to help prevent their children from gang involvement in communities(Chambers, Project Safe Neighborhoods).
Preventing gang involvement can prove to be a difficult task for communities and officials’, but constant efforts must be made in order to make a difference. Distributing and using drugs, illegal weapons, and serious violent crime are gang related activities that threaten many communities. These types of criminal activities and more are spreading fast across many gang related areas in the United States (Tsou, Gang Violence). Creating ways to improve communities and crack down on crimes must be taken seriously.
Efforts to reduce gang formations must be made by the criminal justice system and social work system for there to be any chance for improvement. Author, Amy Tsou, points out that “Researchers believe that gang members aren’t significantly affected by the justice system and that most of the time they are set free, that is, if they ever get caught at all (Gang Violence). Therefore, some believe that another way to help prevent or make a difference in gang activity is to get communities involved in joining efforts to reduce gang activity and involvement. The community can come together and form ideas, intervention, or prevention strategies.
Prevention is the key to maintaining a positive environment for communities (Chambers, Project Safe Neighborhoods). Everyone must do their part in attempting to make a difference if they wish to improve the quality of life. There are many types of solutions to prevent gang involvement and one of those ways is through extra-curricular activities and intervention programs. Young people especially need to be included in positive activities to help better deter the alternative to joining a gang.
Improvements must be made in targeting communities with high gang rates or by targeting serious gang members (U. S. Gang Problem Trends and Seriousness, 1996–2009) Law enforcements can take an active stance in helping to place added pressure to gangs through targeting problematize gang areas. Another prevention strategy that is currently in use is having ex-gang members and professionals’ counsel youth and adults about the negative aspect and seriousness of gang life is Although must gang members view battle scars and incarceration to be a badge of honor, they may not totally comprehend the ramifications of their criminal gang involvement (Chambers, Project Safe Neighborhoods.
Some experts believe more positive results may stem from having ex-gang member’s talk to communities and teenagers about the risk of gangs. They can also prove to be positive role models because they have lived the dangerous lifestyles and may be able to easily relate compared to individuals that lack knowledge in that area. We as a community have to raise the awareness of gangs and teach our children not to be lured into the deceitful literature the gangs of America preach. As mentioned previously Gangs have always been a problem in the United States.
The violence of gangs and populations of gangs has increased over many areas of the United States. Individuals join gangs because of many different forms of influencing factors. Low income areas are also an contributing factor that influences gang involvement. Therefore, for many people that become involved in gangs they do so to help them survive. Areas such as these also have a higher rate of criminal activity. It is for these reasons that society and professionals must continuously attempt to improve these types of communities.
Communities can respond directly and dynamically to their gang problems. Well organized, synthesized solutions can make a tremendous difference decreased crime, lives changed, and lives saved. Effectively handling the problems with gangs means confronting the problem head-on by accurately analyzing the nature and extent of the issue and coordinating a community-wide response (Gangs and Gang behavior). There is no doubt that the problem with gang involvement and gang related criminal activity has increased throughout our history.
However, efforts to implement prevention, intervention, and deterrence solutions are often a complex issue. This is because not every idea or goal will be an effective solution for some areas. Officials’ and law enforcement must focus on analyzing the problem of gangs with-in their individual communities and target which areas are in need of improvements and intervention. The next step is having various groups of professional departments, and the community join together in order to combat the issue of gangs in America.
We cannot actively make a difference without continuously working towards and attempting to improve the quality of life with-in our U. S cities. Our youth is becoming more at risk for gang involvement and this possesses a great threat to society as their numbers increase. Reaching out to our young adults, teenagers, and children and educating them on the serious ramifications of gang lifestyle is important. If we want to see positive decreased results in gang populations we must put making a difference and prevention our primary goal.