Gangs in the United States

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A gang is a group of organized criminals. It can also be described as a group of family members or even friends with an internal organization and a defined leadership system that claims control over or identify with a particular communities’ territory and participates either as a whole group or individually unlawful, illegitimate and possibly violent behaviors and malicious activities. People join gangs for various reasons. For instance, some join to gain a sense of identity, to earn money faster and also to have a sense of security and belonging. Some members of the gangs are jumped in that is by going through the initiation process which differs in various gangs or others might even have to prove their loyalty to their bosses and superiors through committing of various acts mainly violence or even theft. A gang member may be referred to as a gang banger or even a gangster or mostly a thug.

Through history gang activities have been described as a mode of self-help which defrauds, exploits and victimizes others which are visible in societies that do not possess strong law and order forces and agencies. In the 17th Century, London was terrorized by various organized gangs. They mostly conflict each other when they crossed paths. Gangs have been a threat to security in the United States for a long period of history.

There are various types of gangs. First, there are the scavenger gangs. These gangs are disorganized and are the least successful among all the other gang types. Gang members, in this case, are prone to erratic as well as violent behaviors as they are low achievers. Due to discord in these gangs, its leadership frequently changes without reason. They are often involved in and committed low-level crimes. There are also the Territorial gangs. These gangs are considered to be more organized than the scavenger gangs. They are mostly engaged in social evils such as drug peddling in a particular territory. They mostly use force and violence in an attempt to defend a particular territory which at most times helps them bond and improve their social structures. Their difficult home lives and their experiences are what brings them together. Thirdly, there are the corporate gangs. These are very highly organized gangs that are developed for drug marketing and for gaining of maximum profits. Members of these types of gangs are required to have a certain level of etiquette failure to which they will be susceptible to severe punishments. These gangs exhibit high levels of intelligence as compared to other gangs which are as a result of having criminals that are highly successful. Lastly, there are the schoolyard gangs. Majority of the gangs that exist over time in various areas are generated from schoolyard gangs. These gangs are seen in many schools since many schools can be considered as a reason for a child joining a gang (Harding and Palasinski 38).

There are various activities that gangs mostly take part in. For instance, gang members mostly seek clashes with their rivals which lead to violence that claims innocent casualties. Gang violence has been a frequent sighting in many headlines in various countries. It has led to the damage and destruction of property and businesses both private and public (Mattson and Pietz 293).

Gang activity is and will always be a serious challenge in the United States (Krohn and Lane 529). Many people are afraid of crimes committed by gangs. With the inclusion of the violent acts, there are various ways in which gangs are seen to be committing illegal offenses. For instance, there have been cases where young people are shot or shoot other in public areas during the day. Moreover, there are also cases of gang involvement in drug peddling and peddling in drugs for the public. As much as many members join gangs for financial gains, many of them state that all that matters is survival in whatever manner.

Gangs start from the recreational phase followed by the enterprise and criminal stages and end up in the governance stage with each stage possessing its different goals and objectives thus they are used to attain these objectives. With every step these gangs make in progressing in these stages, their goals become more and more power-oriented and organized meaning that violence and death of the competitors and opponents are usually as a result of the methods and measures that they put in place to attain the set goals and objectives. Most gangs begin as a playgroup among youths from poor backgrounds who engage in misconduct mostly because of boredom. At this stage, the goal of their actions is to satisfy their cravings for thrills as well as excitements. Over time after fulfilling this goal, they then get tired and bored of committing themselves to the same old activities and thus their activities become more lawbreaking to satisfy their newly found appetite for new experiences. Acts such as stealing, burglary, games and gambling, roughhousing, use of stimulants and also vandalism are among other activities that they use to satisfy this quest for new experiences. This affects the non-gang citizens negatively as in the process of this, innocent people get injured or even die.As time progresses, the gang participates more in criminal activities as it gets to be a secretive society. Gangs also take part in gang warfare which tends to be both fatal and brutal. Gang warfare mainly entails groups that fight for their economic means or even for the control of a particular territory. It can also be keenly defined as an organized phenomenon whereby gangs get seen as the social agents that aid in the promotion of young wrongdoers into organized crime. This affects the society as well as citizens negatively.

These gangs usually go out of their way not to involve the general public with no ties whatsoever to the gangs as well as their cultures. Therefore non-gang citizens are not involved in any of their activities. The reason for this is that they do not want to draw too much attention to their gang criminal activities. Most of these gangs hate the police or anything to do with them and thus will do all that it takes to avoid making any sort of contact with them. They prefer to abide by the code of silence such that when a member of their gang dies or is murdered by a rival gang, they prefer not to work incorporation with the police but to take matters into their own hands by tracking down their member’s killer and take justice for themselves. This disrupts the already established peace in an area. Law abiding non-gang citizens do not live by such code. In their case, if a family member dies they are more likely to do everything they can to aid the police in investigating their cause of death and track down their killers. Non-gang citizens do not participate in any gang criminal activities and malpractices and thus do not affect a gang’s criminal activities. These gangs profit by leaving these citizens out of their activities because if they compromise their activities and operations they are more likely to get caught by the police, a factor which results to the loss of their money meaning that they will not make any profits.

The increase of gang activities and offenses in various countries shows that gang members are becoming more participative in gang activities and malpractices. There are also various tales such as the gang graffiti in the streets, the clothing that the youth wear as an emblem to show that they are part of the gangs, the rapid increase in the use of slang or gang-style language among others that suggest that these gang activities are rapidly increasing and gang members in the society are increasing each day. Gang activities have developed into a complex and transnational issue that brings about some consequences (Perez 217).

Despite the achieving of a sense of security and the profit gains, there is a disadvantage that once one joins a gang they cannot get back to leading a normal life. In some gangs, the gang members are obligated to take oaths to always take priority the interests of the gangs above other matters. In others, to join the gangs, as an initiation procedure the members are required to leave their ties to the outside world behind that is they are not supposed to have any family ties. That is why most young people who aspire to join these gangs have little or no communication with their parents or siblings.

The reason for this is that many gangs fear that their operations might be compromised and their code of silence and secrecy may be broken thus jeopardizing their operations. They also fear that its members may attempt to leave the gangs and try to leave a normal life thus losing their manpower and resources while in the process risking that their secrets may be sold to their enemies. However, not all gangs prohibit connections as other gang members are married. Some gang members also participate in gang activities to earn money with the aim of running their own businesses someday. In many areas and countries, large gangs join up and buy lands and invest in many businesses. Gang members, when not participating in the gang activities, can take part in their businesses but with the condition that a fair share of their earnings goes to the gangs’ investment accounts. This, therefore, shows that when one joins a gang, from that point onwards, he or she does not earn a moment alone to develop him or herself but their actions are to be for the good of the gangs. This helps them to grow the gangs and help grow it financially.

Gang activities have had a major influence on the youth of today. Majority of today’s youths are oblivious and brainwashed to gang violence and activities. They take much interest in the gangs’ ways of life and tend to embrace their lifestyle (O’Brien, et al. 417). Gangs have the ability and capability to manipulate the youth since they have much experience in how the world works as opposed to the youth who are still young and naïve. Most young people who involve themselves in gang activities are from poor, underprivileged backgrounds where there is little or even no income. Their poor background drives them to believe that a life of crime or joining of gangs is the only way that they will be able to make it in life. The gangs are also able to influence the youth easily because the teens want to earn as much money as they see the gangs doing which is fast and easy money. Gangs operating in many areas are seen to have money in addition to fancy belongings including cars. Struggling youth possibly those that grew without a role model or a father figure consider these gang members as their role models or even heroes. For some teens, they were born into a life of crime where they possess ties to gang-related families meaning that they were initiated into the gang life after they were born. Gangs today don’t have the time nor do they have the luxury of letting the potential recruits to join them but instead go after them. They spot potential youngsters who may have the capability to do what they are told a quality which may appear to be advantageous to them. They will, later on, threaten or even harass the youngsters into joining their individual gangs and prove their loyalty to only them.

Gangs also influence the youth through mass media. Mass media, in this case, could refer to the radio, internet, television, videos, motion pictures as well as the press through journals, newspapers, and magazines. The mode in which the media portrays and glorify the gangs are of less use in reducing the interest of the young people in gang activities but rather increases gang involvement of the youth. Most of the movies being produced in the present day display the gang members enjoying the benefits of their malicious activities and give a wrong picture of respect success and power that the gangs get whereas it is the exact opposite. This in some ways affect the children who in the end aspire to join these gangs and focus less on what is relevant to their lives.

Some teens due to boredom may opt to join these gangs. Others may join to save their lives as they have been incited by the gang members that by joining these gangs they will be able to fend off for themselves and protect themselves from people who are out to bully and torture them and also that it will prevent their lives from being lame. These malicious groups sweep the streets, prisons as well as schools as they brainwash the youth. By recruiting the youth, they are introducing fresh talent into their gangs resulting in the growth of gang members.

The major concern among citizens is the fear that start-up gangs and the violent and organized gangs instill in residents. Gang activities have impact on the non-gang citizens. For instance, in the case of gang violence, two or more gangs fight for the control of a turf, the death of a friend, or even for the businesses being run in a particular area, there are many cases where innocent victims are caught in the crossfire. These days the safety of individual residents has been compromised to a point whereby there is always the chance that one can be caught up in between gang wars at any time. Gang violence can lead to physical injuries, death together with other psychological impacts (Rahtz 1). People who are injured in these cases are more likely to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

People injured in gang violence mostly suffer from mood disorders such as anxiety and disorder. Gang-related violence affects particular people more than others. Some gang activities such as prostitution, drug peddling among others may negatively influence citizens as it ruins the morality of the today’s youth. Many parents and teachers work hard to teach the youth on what is good and bad. They also show them that hard work pays and instill problem-solving skills to them to help them live good lives and become law-abiding citizens. This becomes impossible when gangs sell drugs to these students and teachers show them that the easy way out in life is crime and drugs. This ruins their moral compass and sends them in a bad direction.

Gangs have also had an effect on communities as well as its views. Gangs have over a long period been considered to bring about bad consequences to the society. For instance, gangs in various communities are seen to be the cause of crime increase and act as a negative influence on young people. They tend to create a wrong image and impression to the society whereas they are something completely opposite. For example, these gangs portray an image of success, respect, and power whereas in reality they are composed of school dropouts, participate in malicious acts, engage in drug and alcohol abuse, struggle with unemployment and later on end up in jail or on the wrong side of the law enforcement. Communities fear these gangs due to the harm that they cause to others. Majority of the deaths by shooting incidents are as a result of gang violence thus many countries have a gang problem rather than a gun problem. In the society, many issues that arise reflect poorly on gang and gang activities. They are a bad influence on the youth who bear the thought that joining these gangs is a good and rather efficient idea. Another reason as to why the society considers gangs to be a hazard to the community is that gang violence entails dangerous activities such as gun violence, robbing, tagging, killing as well as fighting. Gang violence is perceived as a serious issue since it affects many innocent lives and at times claims innocent people’s lives.

Youths that are involved in gangs, as well as their activities, are susceptible to a lot of consequences that range from violence to jail and also death. Together with the gang members, these consequences also fall on the gang involved youth’s family members. Children of the detained and imprisoned gang members have been diagnosed with depression, mental health issues together with attention disorders and risk being homeless and also being placed under foster care (Dalmas 1). These also increase the chances of the child to drop out from school and also reduce his or her social support. These consequences of gang activities and gang involvement fall upon their families most of all the children. Females who engage in gang activities face more consequences than male gang members (Esbensen 83). The major reason as to why female youth seek to join gangs is because they want to escape physical and sexual abuse from their homes but when they join gangs they get to experience firsthand gang violence, are forced into drug abuse and prostitution, procreates at a young age, and also engage in criminal activities. Many of them experience difficulties when trying to leave these gangs.

Short-term gang involvement during adolescence has been known to bring about long-term consequences. Adolescents involved in gang activities as compared to non-gang members have a less likelihood of graduating from schools since they embed most of their time in criminal activities. Research reveals that gang involvement has severe consequences in adolescence that in turn leads to social and economic costs (Gilman, et al. 938). Gang members that are active are more likely to participate in criminal activities and malpractices than their non-gang peers. They are also more likely to engage in drug peddling and abuse and are at a high risk of being victimized. Many gang members who are caught committing the stated crimes are imprisoned for several years. Others are rehabilitated before being released into the society.

Works Cited

Dalmas, Karina. "How Gangs Impact Communities' Health."Center for Health Journalism, 19 Feb. 2014, 6 Apr. 2018.

Decker, Scott H, and David Pyrooz.The Handbook of Gangs.John Wiley & Sons, 2015.

Esbensen, Finn-Aage."youth Violence : Sex and Race Differences in Offending, Victimization, and Gang Membership". Temple University Press, 2010.

Gilman, Amanda B., et al. Long-Term Consequences of Adolescent GangMembership for Adult Functioning. 2014.

Gustafson, Flora R. "A Gang's Impact on Teenagers." How To Adult, 14 Feb. 2013, Accessed 6 Apr. 2018.

Harding, Simon, and Marek Palasinski.Global Perspectives on Youth Gang Behavior, Violence, and Weapon Use.IGI Global, 2016.

Huebner, Beth M, and Timothy S. Bynum.The Handbook of Measurement Issues in Criminology and Criminal Justice.John Wiley & Sons, 2016.

Krohn, Marvin D, and Jodi Lane.The Handbook of Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice.John Wiley & Sons, 2015.

Lemke, Valerie. "Dealing with Gang Violence'How Does It Affect Your Family?" Watsonville, CA Patch, 11 Aug. 2011, 6 Apr. 2018.

Mattson, Curtis A, and Christina A. Pietz.Violent Offenders: Understanding and Assessment. Oxford University Press, 2015.

O’Brien, Kate, et al. "Youth gang affiliation, violence, and criminal activities: A review of motivational, risk, and protective factors." Aggression and Violent Behavior, vol. 18, no. 4, 2013, pp. 417-425.

PÉREZ, ORLANDO J. "Gang Violence and Insecurity in Contemporary Central America."Bulletin of Latin American Research, vol. 32, no. s1, 8 Nov. 2013, pp. 217-234.

Rahtz, Emmylou. "The Psychological Impact of Gang Violence."The Conversation, 8 June 2017,

Teasdale, Brent, and Mindy S. Bradley-Engen.Preventing Crime and Violence.Springer, 2016.

Vicent, Samantha. "Families Affected by Gang Violence." Tulsa World, 15 Nov. 2015, Accessed 6 Apr. 2018.

August 18, 2023



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