Gangs

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,
theatre, 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 existance 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 not