The increasing number of adolescents joining gangs represents quite considerable problem for our society nowadays. There are numerous reasons why teens decide to join gangs, and there is a range of risk factors due to which young people become criminals. This paper briefly considers reasons and factors causing joining gangs by adolescents, and explains why it has become a quite popular trend among them.
In order to analyze the situation and find the answer for the question why teens in America join gangs, I decided to use the newest articles at the specialized web-sites dedicated to different social issues, including the tendency to join gangs among adolescents. I used namely these sources because of their availability, reliability and authority. In choosing the sources for my research, I paid attention to the novelty of information they represent, and also considered whether they expound the information maximally comprehensively and understandably for a student.
My main findings are the following. There are two main ways to become a gang member. To join a gang, it is necessary to commit a crime or undergo a procedure of initiation wherein a candidate is beaten by other ang members in order to prove his or her courage and ability to fight (“Why Young People Join Gangs”). There is a range of risk factors causing teens to join gangs. The main ones are as follows:
- Poverty and inability to earn money for satisfaction of basic needs;
- Social isolation;
- Negative peer influence;
- Domestic violence;
- Lack or absence of supervision from the side of parents;
- Poor academic performance and the lack of school attachment (“Why People Join Gangs”).
The reasons motivating teens to join gangs are the following:
- Belonging to gangs gives the adolescents the sense of "family". Very often, teens can feel that they do not receive support and attention from their families at home. They may try to escape from negative atmosphere at home and find a new family in the gangs.
- Need for money to satisfy some needs. Some teens lacking food, clothes or shelter join gangs as they consider them as the only way to survive.
- Desire to be protected. Gang membership can be considered as the only way to receive protection. Some teens believe that it is much easier to be a gang member than to stay vulnerable and unprotected in their crriminal neighborhoods.
- Peer pressure. There are numerous methods of pressure on teens which may make an adolescent join a gang, such as intimidations, coercions, dares, harassments, friendly persuasions or repetitious banging.
- Family history and traditions. In some families, joining gangs cam span over several generations.
- Excitement with a gang lifestyle and desire to appear cool and receive common respect. Sometimes an image of a cool gangster is positively represented by media, and it encourages teens to join gangs. (Lohmann).
To conclude, I would like to state that my findings absolutely satisfy me and give a comprehensive answer for the question I have researched. However, these findings are not enough for those who want to know how to detect a potential or actual gang member, how to prevent desire to join a gang and commit crimes among teens, and what to do when you detect that an adolescent has already become a gang member. In order to find the answers for the questions listed above, it is necessary to search for additional information. As for my own impressions, I can state that I would never become a gang member even if I experienced an influence of one of the above mentioned risk factors.