Youth gangs are mainly involved in illegal activities, and they control crimes on the streets. They also deal with prostitution and drugs. They lead very dangerous lives, and they always possess weapons and steal cars, and they are always on the run from other gang members and the police. They live in fear of getting caught, getting killed or being taken to jail (Pyrooz, D. C., & Sweeten, 2015). They have strict rules, and one has to choose the gang over family and friends.
In America, youth gangs are very common and exist primarily in the urban areas. Many of the national street gangs originated from Chicago, New Yolk City, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia. Currently, the youth gangs have migrated to other United States cities such as Orlando, Atlanta, Kansas City, Boston, New Orleans, Cleveland, Dallas, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Detroit, Memphis, Houston and Tampa.
The 48 percent of violent crimes in most jurisdictions involve American teen gangs. They engage in drug trafficking, gambling, arms trafficking, identity theft, counterfeiting and human trafficking. Ethnic affiliation, structure or membership is used to categorize these gangs. The National Gang Intelligence Center has categorized these gangs into different groups. These include prison gangs, street gang, local street gang and motorcycle gangs, ethnic gangs, youth or juvenile gangs.
A recent study shows that there are more than one million juvenile gang members in America. The number is more than three times estimated by the law enforcers. The Journal of adolescent health shows that about 2 percent of youth in America are gang members. Age 14 has the greatest involvement because about 5% of the teens are a bunch of criminals. They criminals come from all types of backgrounds even though most people in the US believe that the gangs comprise of mostly black and that when a male Latino joins a band, he or she cannot leave it is patently wrong. The stereotypes are highly portrayed by law enforcement and Hollywood movies (Pyrooz & Sweeten, 2015).
Besides, various researchers have found that there are about four hundred thousand youths joining gangs annually and about four thousand youth gangs leaving those groups every year (Houston, 2015). The data shows that the gang leaders or members have to recruit the same bunch of criminals leaving those groups.
The law enforcement undercounts the juvenile gang members, and the federal estimates are about 300,000 which is less than one-third of what most study shows. The law uses a top-down strategy which identifies older and more criminally-involved youngsters as part of the criminal teams. The mode of research ignores the peripherally gang-involved youths and the younger ones who are integrated into the bottom-up strategy most scholars use (Houston, 2015).
What is done to prevent youth from engaging in these gangs?
Providing teens and children with an opportunity to develop positive habits is the key foundation to keep them from engaging in crime and violence (Franzese, Covey, & Menard, 2016). They need to learn how to avoid such offences which have enormous consequences in their life. Family members and teachers should play a great role in enhancing the development of positive behaviors as the children move from one stage to another.
Moreover, the law enforcement officials should enact stricter punishments to deter the adolescents from engaging in crimes. Parents should also be responsible for the actions of their children. There should also be a form of penalties for parents who their children at minority age participate in illegal acts.
Every individual in the society should take part in reporting any suspicious activity among youths. Violence holds families, friends, victims and neighborhoods hostage. It creates conflicts within the community and inhibits different social groups from coming together. The violent actions penetrate workplaces, our homes and public environments (Franzese, Covey, & Menard, 2016). It sucks the life of all parties in the community. The violence costs are enormous. The cost of caring for gunshot amount to sixty-five billion dollars per year. If every person in the community takes part in minimizing crimes, the money can be used elsewhere in improving our economy.
Another strategy to minimize the number of youths participating in crimes is by strengthening our community. All members of the community young and old should work on community-wide anti-violence efforts. There should also be community policies and regulations that promote neighborhood measures against violence. Youths should be vastly encouraged to build community standards and expectations that prohibit violence and other crimes in civic or social clubs, religion centers, schools and development unions among others.
Hence, it is evident that youth participating in crimes affect every member of society directly or indirectly. Therefore, all members of the community should take effective measure in preventing any age group from crimes. The society should also learn to accept and appreciate youths who positively changes from the criminal activities.
- Franzese, R. J., Covey, H. C., & Menard, S. (2016). Youth gangs. Springfield: Charles C Thomas Publisher.
- Houston, S. (2015). Juvenile gang members in the US top 1 million, a new study finds. EurekAlert!. Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-02/shsu-jgm021215.php
- Pyrooz, D. C., & Sweeten, G. (2015). Gang membership between ages 5 and 17 years in the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(4), 414-419.