Gangs

Since the beginning of the decade, teenage homicides increased by one hundred
and fifty percent (Strout, Brian 1996). This sharp increase is largely due to
the rapid formation of gang activity throughout the United States (Strout, Brian,
1996). In today\'s larger cities, gang violence is a reality that people have to
deal with every day. As gang related crimes increase, officials are trying to
find out why people join and remain loyal to gangs. Unfortunately, experts can
only hypothesize explanations for gang involvement. However, by studying
societys influence on humans, there is evidence to blame several forces. These
speculations include the forces of peer pressure, broken families, gang loyalty,
protection, and the media.

First of all, most teens become attracted to gangs by peer pressure and greed.
Estimamates show that forty percent of all gang members joined because their
friends influenced them (Solution for a new year 1996). Teen gangsters will
pressure peers into becoming part of a gang by making it sound glamorous.
Recruiters will often promise popularity in exchange for their loyalty.
Although most gang members find popularity, it often means losing close friends
to rival gangs. Another crucial factor is the need for money. A 6 year old kid,
who is not yet a member, receives impressions that he or she could make $200 to
$400 for a small gang job. In August of 1996, an eleven year old Compton child
received $400 for killing a rival classmate (Wesbrach, 1996). Although money
and popularity are important factors, they are not strong enough to persuade
kids to do things that are strongly against their morals. Other stronger force
such as broken families and the media, along with peer pressure, works together
to persuade young kids to join a gang.

Second of all, the formation of gangs in cities, and most recently in suburbs,
is facilitated by the lack of community upbringing among parents. In a fully
developed community, a network of relations can be found among several parents.
The relationship could be a parent, teacher, and minister, depending on the
child\'s circumstances. In South Central Los Angeles, this communication can not
be found, so students turn to gangs for companionship. In a classroom with no
security, students could be distracted from learning, and thus distraced from
the network. Furthermore, in poor families with many children, or upper-
middle class families where parents are always working, children will often feel
deprived of love. Parents often feel that putting food on the table is enough
love. Children from families often go to the gang out of boredom. As time goes
on, a form of 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 replaced the family. Although this may be a feeling for
belonging, statistics show that seventy percent of gang members cheat and steal
from the people they call friends.

In every gang, problems occur as each male tries to be the most courageous.
This often leads to all members participating in "one-up-manship." Quite often
this starts a domino effect where each member tries to commit a bigger and more
violent crime. With all members participating in this sort of activity, it
makes a never ending, unorganized violence spree. In gangs with organization,
members feed off these feelings, and each member desires to be the star when the
group commits a crime. This makes a gang much more organized and improves the
morals of members. It also makes the gang more dangerous and very hard for the
police to deal with and catch. There is nothing harder to find and deal with
than organized teens that are dedicated to the group. According to the LA Times,
30% of all organized crime goes unsolved (Wesbrach 1996). This form of gang is
usually common with the middle or upper class. Furthermore, the same forms have
been reported near the projects and other low rent districts too. This "one-up-
manship" is often the reason for rival gangs fighting. Gangs want to feel
powerful and feared. To do this they establish themselves as the only gang in a
certain neighborhood. After several gang fights, hatred forms then the desire
to murder ends in drive-by-shootings. When two or more gangs are at war, it
makes life very dangerous for citizens in the area. Less that 40% of drive-by-
shootings kill their intended victim, yet over 60% do kill someone (Suburban
Gangs 1996).

In addition, one of the great factors in determining to joining a gang is
protection. In slums such as the Bronx,