Gangs: A Violent Reality


Gangs are a violent reality that people have to deal with in today\'s
cities. What has made these groups come about? Why do kids feel that being in
a gang is both an acceptable and prestigious way to live? The long range answer
to these questions can only be speculated upon, but in the short term the
answers are much easier to find. On the surface, gangs are a direct result of
human beings\' personal wants and peer pressure. To determine how to effectively
end gang violence we must find the way that these morals are given to the
individual Unfortunately, these can only be hypothesized. However, by looking at
the way humans are influenced in society, I believe there is good evidence to
point the blame at several institutions. These include the forces of the media,
the government, theater, drugs and our economic system.

On the surface, gangs are caused by peer pressure and greed. Many teens
in gangs will pressure peers into becoming part of a gang by making it all sound
glamorous. Money is also an crucial factor. A kid (a 6-10 year old, who is not
yet a member) is shown that s/he could make $200 to $400 for small part time
gang jobs. Although these are important factors they are not strong enough to
make kids do things that are strongly against their morals.

One of the ways that kids morals are bent so that gang violence becomes
more acceptable is the influence of television and movies. The average child
spends more time at a TV than she/he spends in a classroom. Since nobody can
completely turn off their minds, kids must be learning something while watching
the TV. Very few hours of television watched by children are educational, so
other ideas are being absorbed during this period of time. Many shows on
television today are extremely violent and are often shown this from a gang\'s
perspective. A normal adult can see that this is showing how foully that gangs
are living. However, to a child this portrays a violent gang existence as
acceptable. \'The Ends Justifies the Means\' mentality is also taught through
many shows where the "goody guy" captures the "bad guy" through violence and is
then being commended. A young child sees this a perfectly acceptable because he
knows that the "bad guy" was wrong but has no idea of what acceptable
apprehension techniques are.

Gore in television also takes a big part in influencing young minds.
Children see gory scenes and are fascinated by these things that they have not
seen before. Older viewers see gore and are not concerned with the blood but
rather with the pain the victim must feel. A younger mind doesn\'t make this
connection. Thus a gore fascination is formed, and has been seen in several of
my peers. Unfortunately kids raised with this sort of television end up growing
up with a stronger propensity to becoming a violent gang member or \'violent-
acceptant\' person.

"Gangs bring the delinquent norms of society into intimate contact with
the individual."1, (Marshall B Clinard, 1963). So, as you can see if TV leads a
child to believe that violence is the norm this will manifest itself in the
actions of the child quite, often in a gang situation. This is especially the
case when parents don\'t spend a lot of time with their kids at the TV explaining
what is right and what is wrong. Quite often newer books and some types of
music will enforce this type of thought and ideas.

Once this mentality is installed in youngsters they become increasingly
prone to being easily pushed into a gang situation by any problem at home or
elsewhere. For instance, in poor families with many children or upper-middle
class families where parents are always working, the children will often feel
deprived of love. Parents can often feel that putting food on the table is
enough love. Children of these families may often go to the gang firstly out of
boredom and to belong somewhere. As time goes on, a form of love or kinship
develops between the gang members and the child. It is then that the bond
between the kid and the gang is completed because the gang has effectively taken
the place of the family.

The new anti social structure of cities also effects the ease in which a
boy/girl can join a gang. " The formation of gangs in cities, and most recently
in suburbs, is facilitated by the same lack of community among parents. The
parents do