Why Juvenile Choose A Gang Lifestyle?

2508 words - 11 pages

Gangs have been in existence since the beginning of the Roman Empire. There were speeches made by Roman orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero, which references groups of men who constantly fought and disrupted Roman politics (Curry, 2013). The history of street gangs in the United States begins with their emergence on the East Coast around 1783, as the American Revolution ended. Though many believe the best available evidence suggests that the more serious street gangs likely did not emerge until the early part of the nineteenth century (Sante, 1991). Although our country has had their share of feared gangs like in the 1980’s with the turf war between the Bloods and Crips, back in the 17th and 18th century the Mohocks of Georgian, England were one of the most feared gangs. What draws juveniles to the gang lifestyle? Many people will say that most gang members are children from impoverished communities, single family homes where there was no father present, or maybe there is a more psychological/sociological answer? By appearance and presence most gangs cause fear, crime, and disillusionment in the communities they occupy. Throughout history joining a gang has been perceived as a life without any reward, yet by joining this lifestyle many juveniles are able to gain the needed stability and security in their lives.
Webster’s dictionary has several definitions for the meaning of gang. The definition that best fits for juveniles is a group of young people who do illegal things together and who often fight against other gangs, or a group of people who are friends and who do things together. (Webster’s) One of the problems met by law enforcement and other professionals is the lack of a consistent definition of a gang. Generally a gang is defined as three or more people with a common purpose who are engaged in criminal activity but this definition changes from state to state.(Kinnear, 2009) The difficulty posed by not having one single definition of a gang creates a major problem when attempting to study the size and extent of gangs and gang behavior. Without a consistent, widely accepted definition, statistics about the number of gangs and gang members are only estimates. (Kinner, 2009) Since there are so many ways to describe this problem there needs to be a more defined way to find a solution. That means something needs to be done on the Federal level that each state must be enforced to enact new legislation to make sure a solution can be found to this growing gang problem.
The factors that draw juveniles toward the gang lifestyle can be by choice, psychological, or sociological. BF Skinner theorized that children learn conformity and deviance from the punishments and reinforcements they receive in response to their behavior. (Regoli, 2011) Children are drawn to those who have the same experience whether they are good or bad. Albert Bandura suggests that children learn by modeling and imitating others. In this social learning theory he...

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