Why Do Kids Join Gangs?

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Our nation is facing an alarming phenomenon called – gang. It is natural for young people to hang out together forming a group or gang. However, today, they are becoming more widespread, exceptionally dangerous and highly advanced in committing crime. According to the files of FBI, there are about one million criminally active gang in the U.S. today categorized into 20,000 brutal street gangs, vicious motorcycle gangs, and ferocious prison gangs.

How to get into the circle:

As it is a well-known procedure, a young person applies for membership or is given an invitation to join. If accepted, he/she has to undergo some tests. It can be an assignment to commit a crime or a painful initiation procedure where all fellow gang members will beat him up. They claimed these are ways to test the initiatee’s courage and fighting ability. After the initiation, he/she gets into the circle for a lifetime and joins all the activities.

Facts about youth gangs:

Young people composed a gang of both male and female. Like the traditional gang in the neighborhood, they claimed that the group was organized for protection or for social and economic reasons. Some of the most notorious and dangerous gangs have evolved from youth gangs

Gangs are vital parts of growing up and a good training to become a law abiding citizen; however, many go out of control and become bad when they come under the influence of a bad leader or they want to express their superiority.

Why gangs are bad:

The work of the gang is by intimidating and scaring others and does illegal stuff. Young people think that joining a gang will make them popular with the other kids in school and they now have a cheering squad in bullying their objects of ridicule. Activities are later shifted to the next level as they turn illegal. It is the only option for them to satisfy their cravings for thrills, drugs sex or alcohol. Many will commit crimes until they are wanted for criminal acts as forgery, stealing, raping, physical assault and other crimes. Being in a gang is not safe but exposing yourself to danger. And you are not allowed to quit the group.

Why join a gang?

  1. The best reason is for identity or recognition – Being part of a group gives you an identity as a member and being able to achieve a level of status he/she feels is impossible outside the gang culture.
  2. Peer pressure – Kids become members if friends or family members are in a gang and are pressured to join them. Some grow up in a neighborhood where gang members are always with them.
  3. For protection – A young man or woman is constrained to join as he/she lives in the neighborhood and maybe subject to violence of the gang or its rival. Being a member is a warranty for support in case of attack and retaliation for offenses.
  4. The need for fellowship and brotherhood – For many gang members, the group functions as an extended family where they experience companionship and acceptance not found in the member’s home environment. In most cases, an older sibling or relative belong, or have belonged to the gang.
  5. Due to intimidation – Members are forced to contribute to the gang’s criminal activities or some join to intimidate members of the neighborhood.
  6. Benefits from criminal activity – To engage in narcotics and enjoy the profits and protection of the gang are good reasons for joining.
  7. Feeling a sense of acceptance, belonging, and loyalty– To be accepted, to belong and to expect loyalty are motivations for membership. Unfortunately, only a few youths realize the hazards associated with gang involvement until it is too late.
  8. Financial benefits – For a gang member, it is easy to obtain money or possessions. There are many well-organized and sophisticated groups that used violence to control neighborhoods and boost their illegal money-making activities.

Parents can help prevent gang involvement:

Parents play important role in keeping their kids away from gang involvement. They should find time to be with their kids let them know that they are always there to give acceptance and support. Parents must always listen to their child; to offer praises when appropriate and give affection. If the family is the source of love, guidance, and protection then the youth would not turn to satisfy his basic needs from a gang.

Finally, if you suspect your child is a gang member or planning to join one, try to get into family counseling. While the problem may not be yours, it can best be worked out as a family. Report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement.

Author: Lourdes Cedeno

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