Statistics indicates that gang and gang violence amongst children and adults are on the rise. Especially in urban areas where there are many businesses and poverty is rampant. For youth, there is often a disconnect between the child and the family. For adults, there is a myriad of reasons.
Our top adverse contender is peer pressure, followed by; the need to be accepted; feeling like an outcast; and a need for security.
Peer pressure is nothing more than the undue influence exerted by a peer group upon an individual to cause them to change or modify their beliefs, attitude or behavior in conformity with the group. For the youth, this could mean something as minute as changing the way they dress to as extreme as taking a life.
Gangs use strength in numbers to gain even greater numbers convincing others of their code. Youngsters find gangs relatively easy to enter but extremely hard to escape. The tasks the new recruit is given is simple, at first, but becomes more difficult as time goes by. Task such as fighting and stealing eventually turn to robbery and murder. Before he realizes it, he is hopelessly lost in a web of violence. His pleas for help and escape from the group often fall on deaf ears.
Need To Be Accepted
We all come from a family and have a need to belong. Within the family we give and receive as part of the group dynamic. When we have a need that we feel is not being met in the group, we turn to those outside the group. With children, there is no realization that acceptance by a gang means acceptance for the goals of the gang and not the individual.
Positive groups like the Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts are everywhere. Their goal is to benefit the group and the members. Gangs, on the other hand, abuse society, individuals and ultimately the gang itself. Notwithstanding, gangs do offer acceptance to its members. The difference is that in gangs the more heinous the behavior, the greater the reward and respect for the perpetrator.
Feeling Like An Outcast
When we are children our parents are our world. Whatever they say is correct and we learn from them. As we age and form our own opinions, conflict arises within us. By the time we are teenagers, we think our opinion is more relevant than our parents. We don’t realize our parents are doing the best they can, and we didn’t come with a with a child-rearing manual.
Never the less we want our voice heard and if parents don’t listen, we seek out those who will. We have choices and they determine whether we stay connected to or disconnect from our family. If there is an available gang that seems to think the way we do, we’re in. We are constantly seeking to meet the need to belong.
Need For Security
As a child, we obtain virtually everything from our parents. As we age, we slowly start to depend on others to meet our needs. The need for companionship and group dynamics may start to diminish at home. This is a normal cycle of life and is expected. At home, however, we have the basics like food, clothing, security and shelter. A child often thinks that regardless of what happens, when he gets home mom or dad will take care of it. As we mature, we start to feel a need to find security in other people. And therein lies part of the problem.
The biggest problem with a quest for security is determining what type to seek. Home gives you the type of security that generally works if you are doing the right thing. Gangs give you security which is active and aggressive regardless of your behavior as long as it is not against another member.
Depending on our home situation the gang type of all-encompassing security can be very attractive. Imagine that regardless of what you do, or to whom it is done, you have backup; you are always right. This adverse lifestyle with few rules is just the enticement for leaving home and joining the gang.
What’s your take on why gangs are on the rise? Do you feel more can be done at home to keep children out of gangs? Do you think parents are the root cause of children leaving to join gangs?