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According to study by Walter Miller and Malcolm Klein, there has been a significant increase in gang activity across the United States. However, gangs are nothing new and are becoming more and more common around the globe. After hearing rumors of gang violence against him from the Baltimore gang, President Abraham Lincoln disguised himself on the way to his first inauguration. Meanwhile, a worried Jefferson Davis tried to personally get involved in the fight against teen gangs in Richmond, Virginia. (Scott & David, 2017). Late in the nineteenth century, most cities across the United States experienced an immigration and industrial development boom leading to increasing in organised adolescent groups heavily involved in crime, gang, in New York, Boston, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh as early as 1870. In Ireland and Italy, large groups of disorganised of children of immigrants engaged in disorganised aggregation such as small forms of property and crime and routed their violence against each other as well as other members of rival gangs.
(Scott & David, 2017)Frederic Thrasher, the famous gang researcher in the 1920s, concluded that there is a distinction between young gangs and organised crime and relationship between the changing ecology of urban areas and gang activity as the immigration patterns influenced the composition of the youth gangs. However, William Foote Whyte concluded that gangs of the depression as young adult members who had few other alternatives outside the gangs of their youth. Over the decade's gang activity tends to be concentrated in the urban areas where families in the low strata of the economic and social hierarchy live. (Scott & David, 2017) In the 1960s gangs consisted of a vast number of ethnic and racial minorities with a level of gang violence varied criminal opportunities across the United States due to the availability of weapons automobiles. Gangs are not only confined to the United States, as after the break-up of the Soviet bloc nations and former the Soviet Union many gangs emerged and Klein also identified that there was an increase in emerging youth gangs in many European countries such as Holland, Germany and France.
The criminal justice system plays an increasingly crucial role in the lives of the ever growing number of youths. (Scott & David, 2017)As a means to solve the gang-related crime problem the United States has come to rely upon incarceration, and however by doing so there is contact between gang members and agents of the criminal justice system increase. Unfortunately, there is growing evidence that prison propels many young men who formerly were not gang members toward gang membership. Also, imprisonment strengthens the ties between many gang members and their gang, as the gang is one of the remaining sources of identification open to incarcerated members. Thus implies that most prison in the States plays a significant role in the lives of gang members.
The consequences of joining a gang are potentially severe, both for the youth and for their communities. The frequency with which someone commits gross and violent acts typically increases while they are gang members, compared with periods before and after gang involvement. Adolescents who are in a gang commit much more grave and violent offences than non-gang teenagers. In samples from several U.S. cities, gang member's account for approximately three-fourths of the violent offences committed by delinquents in those samples. Gang involvement also elevates drug use and gun carrying, leading to arrest, conviction, incarceration and a greater likelihood of violent victimisation. These experiences bring disorder to the life course through a cascading series of difficulties, including school dropout, teen parenthood and unstable employment
Not until 1975 there were no efforts to estimate the number of gangs, the gang members and gang-related crimes as a national crisis, however, that same year Walter Miller established that out the 12 major cities six had a major gang problem. According to Miller, the number gangs ranged between 760 and 2700 with members ranging from 28500 to 81500. Also, at least five national surveys between 1975 and 1995 funded by the Department of Justice. (Scott & David, 2017)National Youth Gang Center reported that in 1995 there was a total of 664906 gang members in approximately 23388 youth gangs in 1741 jurisdictions of the many small cities, rural and suburban counties. However, in 1993 most conservative approximates for the scope of the United States gang problem from records obtained from local law enforcement that includes 8625 gangs with approximately 378807 gang members with 437006 gang related crimes. About 90 percent of the youth gang members are male with approximately 71 percent of these gang members lay in the 15 and 24 age bracket and 14 years and below make up the 16 percent of the rest of these members (Arlen, C, & Harris, 2013), according to the 1999 National Youth Gang Survey. These young gangs compose of about 14 percent white, and 79 percent are either black or Hispanic, but this has led to racial profiling of young males in groups due to the significant discrepancy in the number of minorities. Until a 1988 study of two main Los Angeles gangs, most agencies in earlier years perceived gangs as ethnically and racially segregated loosely organised fighting groups however these gangs were entrepreneurial and well organised perpetrating violent crimes and trafficking drugs. The juveniles committed a sharp increase in the number of gang-related crimes between 1984 and 1993 169 percent of the number of homicides and also marking an increase in gang membership. Between 1989 and 1995 school reported 7 percent increase in some students in gangs and many states enacted statutes and designed ordinances to address the crimes resulting from a gang. David Curry and Scott Decker indicates that there has been an increase in numbers of cities in the United States reporting gang issues between 1993 and 1995 by linking cities surveyed earlier and those surveyed in 1995.
Diego Vigil and Joan Moore's Chicano gangs in Los Angeles research mainly focuses on the violence and the cultural elements that affected gang membership. (Scott & David, 2017)To explain gang formation and their activities, Moore and vigil place the central importance of the position of the Mexican-Americans in the cultural and institutional life of the East Los Angeles and the role of the Chicano culture in East Los Angeles. Moore's foundation on explaining gangs and its involvement in crimes relied on the detachment of Chicano culture from mainstream political and social life. (Scott & David, 2017)
According to Moore Chicano gangs had a strong age graded structures that resulted in a cohort or klikas groups and made fighting core of their gang life and were territorially based. However according to vigil, with the streets providing the youths with alternative and appealing socialisation path Chicano youth is in a better position of multiple marginalities to become a common solution to the identity problem. (Scott & David, 2017)Moore and Horowitz work identifies and links the culture of male machismo and gang relates violence, and moreover, most researchers have singled out drug involvement within the gangs played a crucial role in facilitating the connection between violence and the cultural issues.
(Scott & David, 2017)Joan Moore and Diego vigil work in Los Angeles point out the need for order and regulations in the adolescent's lives as most are hardcore members of gangs but also leading a considerable life outside the gangs and other adolescents as well as institutions such as family play a significant role in their lives. Gangs provide and fulfil some of the needs and conditions that most children are seeking thus growing a number of youth in gangs. In some instances, gangs fulfil many functions initially provided by a family unit and that include status and social cohesion. Thus raises the risk of children joining gangs as some gang members play the role of a parent to the child leading to gangs proliferating and lasting longer.
In conclusion, cities and counties across the United States should realize gang and gang-related crimes is a crisis experienced in all parts of the world and therefore should utilise suppression, social intervention, community mobilisation, social opportunities and organisational change as some of the strategies to respond and tackle gangs and gang violence. According to Spergal and Curry suppression is a strategy that includes criminal justice and law enforcement interventions such as surveillance, arrest, prosecution and imprisonment and many jurisdictions utilise this approach as the primary response to gang violence and gangs.
Social intervention such as social service referrals, treatment for youths and their families and crisis intervention should be utilised to counsel the youth about gangs. (Howell, 2010)Organisational change is another gang intervention strategy that includes a development of real task forces to handle and address the gang related issues. Community mobilisation strategy includes a response to gang issues by a small number of communities as the strategy is deigned to create cooperation across agencies and produce a better coordination of all existing services. (Howell, 2010) (National Youth Gang Survey Analysis, 2017)Social opportunities strategy emphasises on the job training, education and job provision as a way of intervening the gang problem, however, most effective strategies to be applied in cities where there is a chronic gang problem should be community mobilisation and social opportunities.
Arlen, E., C, J. H., & Harris, M. (2013, December). National Youth Gang Survey Analysis. Retrieved from National Gang Center: https://www.nationalgangcenter.gov
Howell, J. C. (2010). Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs. Juvenile Justice Bulletin, 24.
National Youth Gang Survey Analysis. (2017, March 15). Retrieved from National Gang Center: http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/Survey-Analysis.
Scott, D. H., & David, C. G. (2017, March 15). Juvenile and Youth Gangs - History, Scope Of Gang Problems, Correlates Of Gang Proliferation, Gangs And Crime, Drugs And Gangs. Retrieved from http://law.jrank.org
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