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Gangs have been around in the US since the 1800s, so they are not new. With the influx of immigrants from various backgrounds in the 19th century, the threat posed by violent gangs to the nation grew more serious. People of different faiths and ethnicities who had migrated from Asia and Europe joined gangs in an effort to defend themselves from outside invasions and establish a unified presence. Since the beginning of time, groups of people who are not recognized by the law have been seen as illegal and possibly dangerous to the public. People were afraid of street gangs in the 19th century, but the modern cliques tend to be pose worse menaces to public safety than those of the past years (Friedrichs 11). The paper looks into the issue of modern gangs, the causes behind their formations, the effects that they pose in the modern society, and measures that can be taken to mitigate their impacts.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, gangs were mainly involved with petty crimes or delinquent acts like scuffles with other rival groups. With the progression of the 20th century, gangs started engaging in serious criminal activities. By the end of the 20th century, the federal government had to recognize gang members as dangerous criminals (Friedrichs 14). They were associated with acts such as illegal drug and weaponry trafficking, and application of violence and intimidation in pursuit of their goals. In the modern setting, gangs are well-organized and funded groups that engage in a wide array of criminal activities. They are controlled by wealthy, powerful, and influential cartels that run different segments of various localities in the country. The gangs engage in cold blood murder, terrorism, robbery, and so forth. Their main intentions in the current day is to pursue the interests of their financiers for the completion of a mutually beneficial relationship between the two parties.
Criminal gangs are made up of young people who largely have similar traits and needs in life. These groups come into existence because needs of young people either in a society or a particular culture are not met. The youth have relatively the same needs, and once they converge with their unmet demands, they form a system within which they deem will satisfy them. When young people are criticized mistreated in a societal setting, they are likely to find solace among their peers in the gangs. The gangs offer them friendship, family-things, and camaraderie that they are accorded neither at home nor school (Papachristos, Andrew, Hureau and Braga 28). Due to this factor, the young people tend to experience a kind of instant success in the groupings, while they regard experiences in other social circles to be a failure. Involvement of the youths in gangs gives them a sense of belonging, and hence they are more appreciated there.
On top of social discrimination, young people engage in criminal gangs because of economic factors such as unemployment. When they have nothing else to do, the youths lack hope in their lives, and they resort to involvement in the violent groups. Since the legitimate economic system is not supporting their ambitions, the youths tend to believe that joining one of the local gangs could result in personal satisfaction. Also, some of the young persons are raised in households where the parents are active members of particular gangs and hence joining such illicit institutions becomes a norm to them (Papachristos, Andrew, Hureau and Braga 28). The young ones automatically take after their parents and proceed with the usual things to which they are exposed all their lives. Other than the somewhat natural causes that make the youths join gangs, they also do it because of greed. For example, some of gang members are well-educated and decent youths. However, they want to acquire success through dubious means such as crime and hence they engage in unscrupulous activities through the cliques.
In the United States, a significant number of people comprehend or have experienced gang violence in their communities and neighborhoods. It is a vice that has impacted the lives of ordinary people negatively. The violence is a crucial economic and social problem, and it comes with a high toll on members of the public and the business fraternity. For instance, according to the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, there are almost 500 gang groups made up of around 40000 members in the city (Seelke and Ribando 67). The gangs destabilize both business and peaceful coexistence among people in the larger society. Small and medium enterprises lose customers in areas where the gangs mark as their territories. It is the case because buyers fear to indulge in such regions because they intend to avoid potential attacks by the criminals.
Young persons who turn into gang members become economic burdens to the society. The expenditure of jailing members of gangs exceed the yearly expenses incurred at the top ranking private universities in the United States. Other than the aspect of imprisonment and public expenditure the gang members do not make a substantial living from the criminal activities (Seelke and Ribando 67). For this reason; the dependency ration is sustained them as if they had not engaged in crime. Also, they become economic burdens due to the sense that they do not exploit their potential that they could contribute to the economy. The country suffers opportunity costs for which the gang members could cover through engaging in productive activities.
After the identification of this problem and the effects that it brings to the society, it is important to develop remedying measures that could mitigate the problem. Parents should be in a position to identify the signs of a gang association in their young ones and make them understand that illicit ways of living are not glamorous or sustainable in the long run. Educating parents about the gangs is instrumental and critical in the quest for fighting against the dangerous formations. On top of the family-level prevention, prevention of youth involvement in the gangs can be done at school (Walker, Samuel, Spohn, and DeLone 15). Education centers should concentrate on point out gang members and creating awareness among the parents and guardians. Also, schools should tighten security and monitor their campuses in a bid to restrain gang members from recruiting students.
The larger community is supposed to join efforts with security officers in fighting the menace brought by gang members. This can be done through the creation of gang prevention programs which aim at barring youths from involving themselves with the criminal groups. In conclusion, gang violence is a significant security menace in the United States. Gangs emerged in the countries in the 18th century, and they have been in existence up to the 21st century (Walker, Samuel, Spohn, and DeLone 15). Their criminal activities have escalated from petty crime to serious activities such as robbery, murder, and terrorism. They are created by young people who have common unmet needs and a few greedy people in the society. The gangs destabilize peace in the society and stifle the economy especially for small and medium enterprises. The solution to this menace is in the family, school, and larger community levels of the society.
Friedrichs, Matt. "Gangs: Problems and Answers." Web.Stanford.Edu, 2015, https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/ganginterv/gangsproblems.htm.
Papachristos, Andrew V., David M. Hureau, and Anthony A. Braga. "The corner and the crew: the influence of geography and social networks on gang violence." American sociological review 78.3 (2013): 417-447.
Seelke, Clare Ribando. "Gangs in central America." Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America 4.1 (2011): 67.
Walker, Samuel, Cassia Spohn, and Miriam DeLone. The color of justice: Race, ethnicity, and crime in America. Cengage Learning, 2012.
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