Gangs are formed to provide protection to a fellow “brother” or a “sister” from the harmful elements of the society, which, primarily is community crimes. The whole gang gives a fellow gang member a sense of belongingness, recognition, power, identity and security. These are things that the gang members have never gotten from the inside of their homes. In effect, these gang members bring their frustrations on the street and make their existence strong within the community. Joining a gang, for them, will prove their strength and courage. But, these are only promises of joining a gang.
Most of those who join don’t see the downside of being a member before they join because these outlets of frustrations overpower the ability of these people to think critically especially of the consequences of their activities. Gang as a Fraternity/Sorority The members of the gang consist of both male and female. A study even showed that female gang members are increasing in numbers. Can gang be compared to fraternity or sorority? In essence of promoting brotherhood and sisterhood, gangs are the same as a fraternity and sorority. But, in terms of organization and purpose, they are definitely different.
Fraternities and sororities make their identities be known through various projects and activities. These fraternities and sororities are very well-recognized by an authority, a school administration, for example. They follow strict guidelines and has a structural framework. The purpose of the fraternity and the sorority is clear and they also have clear beneficiary in the society. They involve organized planning and organized execution of these plans (McCarthy, 2008). There is also a report that gangs are not strongly bound to their group.
Their level of cohesiveness vary and may increase only when challenged by another gang. This is in contrast to the belief that gangs are highly organized. Fraternities and sororities also give their members a sense of belongingness, recognition and identity. But, power and security may be present or absent. Brothers protect their fellow brother but these security is not in terms of assault of the members from other fraternities. The biggest difference lies on the activities of the fraternities/sororities with that of the gang when it comes to participation in community crimes.
Gangs have long been associated with killings, robbery, assault and drug pushing. These association is brought by the police records. Although, there are cases wherein fraternity members are involved in scandals and crimes, they are not in consistency as that of the gang. So, the purpose of joining a gang? Youth as main target Statistics show that more and more kids are joining a gang. As a consequence, there has been an increase in the rate of youth crimes. What kind of crimes? The most common is physical assault that could lead to murder.
Next to that is robbery and drug pushing. According to the US Bureau of Justice Assistance (2005), gangs have become the main distributors of drugs throughout the country. The least recorded are sexual assault which is just inside the gang. In an interview, one female gang member said, they are demanded to have sexual intercourse with male gang member or have to be asked to perform obscene acts. These female gang member is of age 16. At that age, she was also asked to dance “scantily clad on tables (Molidor, 1996).
” This interview was done in Texas and the interview was conducted from female members age 13-17. Los Angeles, is one of the biggest city to have been flooded with gang activities. It was reported to have 23,000 reported crimes brought by gangs since 2004. Almost a thousand of those cases are murders. But, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago are also hot on the list. Why are youth become easy targets of the gang? Primarily, because they are easy to persuade. At an early age, kids experience all kinds of aggression especially on their early teen years.
It gives them a sense of belonging that they do not experience in their homes. It also gives them a feeling of having power because they are able to intimidate the other kids of their age not to mess with them. Youth are very easy to recruit. Perhaps, they have been victims of a gang before that they decided to join to get revenge or feel strong because of the presence of the group. They may have felt weak when they have been assaulted by a gang before and now, feel rage towards their attacker. They seek for people who will defend them. Previous victims can be a target.
And the easier target could be a friend or a cousin. But, joining require initiation in forms of mild physical assault, taking doses of drugs and even having sex with a gang member. The neophyte has to learn about the culture. Even when they do not completely agree, they will decide to adopt their culture because these are the people who will give them protection and defense. The gang members who promised the neophyte protection, security and family become cool people and their activities also become cool. Activities of the gang are definitely harmful.
School, then, becomes dangerous. And because of the illegal activities and self-destructing deeds of the youth, they, eventually, are kicked off frm school. In result, we have higher rates of out-of-school youths. No Getting Out Once the member has joined the gang, there could be no easy way that he/she could get out. First, the member has already been identified with the conducts of the gang. The members of the other gang has already identified him/her as a part of that gang and will continue to think of him/her as an enemy even without gang wars.
In one interview, a gang member retold of how she and his younger brother was shot by a gang riding a car while walking to a store. But, the most difficult factor to deal with when getting out of a gang is your own gang. The gang won’t let you out of their circle because of the threat of disclosure of their activities and other secrets. Role of the Law Reinforcer The Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles denies allegation that gang violence is purely a problem on law enforcement. Police reports say that victims would highly report their cases if they believe that the offenders are non-members of the gang.
Perhaps, this is brought by the intimidating air of the gang members. In essence, the gangs are effective in making their existence strong. Gang violence is not purely a problem on law enforcement because several other factors within the society can get themselves involve to make the act against these gang violence effective. They reiterate that homes, schools, police, community-based organization and other institutions should also make an involvement because gang violence and crime is a whole community problem.
There has also been an amendment to the law approved in 2008 wherein the prosecutors are allowed to collect damages from the gang member’s personal assets to return to the community (Wood, 2009). The fact that the government are acting to stop the activities of a gang shows that gangs are enemies of the society and anything that goes within it are illegal, dangerous and harmful. So, why join? The story of the gang member who was shot by a group of gangster while walking to a store tell us that a gang member consistently harms himself/herself even without the actual gang wars.
A gang member must, in all times, watch his/her back because he/she can be assaulted anytime and anywhere. The activities inside the gang are also not agreeable and can cause self-destruction. Power can be attained by having accomplishments by joining several activities. Recognition and identity goes with it, too. This only means that schools and the community must really work to get the youth involved on such good and healthy activities. Sense of belonging starts at home. Parents and families play important role in shaping the future of their children.
References:McCarthy, Brendan. 2008. Tulane Fraternity fought complaints. Retrieved February 5, 2009 from http://blog.nola.com/updates/2008/05/tulane_fraternity_fought_earli.html.