Youth Gangs in the United States
Street gangs are known to have existed ever since the 19th century. Those that are mostly publicized in the US are the African-American. The group referred to as the black gangs were not yet seen as a social problem till the migration period in the 1910s. There arose a notable exception in 1853, Philadelphia. Most of the people in the US believed that the trend in which the gang activity was increasing with should have been greatly triggered by the fact that there was a fall in the number of the adult mentors, school drop outs, dropping of the after-school programs and other failures bon the part of the adults with regard to their children' (Vigil).
European-American youth gang's history dates back to 1780's. These gangs were normally associated with groups of young people who used to idle along the streets hence lacking a solid definition. Rumors had it that the groups were meant to ensure total protection of their localities from some other groups. Herbert Asbury highlighted some of these groups in his Irish history and also the American gangs in Manhattan. He tried to point out the reasons for formation of the gangs just as an attempt to protect their territory, the control of criminal enterprises or even the passion towards fighting. One of Asbury's books was used by Martin Scorsese in order to expound more motion picture gangs in the New York. In the 19th century, gangs organized themselves as ethnic groups as most of the neighbors never at all displayed the social polarization that tends to have in a great deal separated various ethnic groups in the city.
The gang activities are not only common within the inner cities but such cases have been reported even within the suburbs and among the rural communities and even communities known to have a vast socio-economic diversity. Besides the fact that most of the gangs tend to form in accordance with the geographical boundaries or even ancestry, one ought to keenly observe that the gangs behavior never match or rather they are not in any way comparable to the ethnic community associated with them.
Besides the black gangs, there were also some other groups, namely the Hispanic gangs, the white gangs, immigrant gangs and finally the Asian gangs. Due to the great number of immigrant in the country and the urge to get earnings from drugs dealings, the number of gangs has greatly increased with a hybrid of ethnicities. One of the major characteristics of the gangs is that some of the gangs are formed the basis of hatred of particular type of person.
One of the most threatening effects of gangs is that they tend to bring about disunity and hence tearing apart communities, besides the fact that they are a major factor when it comes to disruption of schools. Leave alone the fact that gangs' violence dominates between rival gangs of a common ethnic background, when viewing the entire issue in a particular perspective one tends to comprehend that gangs' activities affect the entire community in some way. Those of the American schools whereby gang activities are rampant, there normally exists an environment full of fear and intimidation and consequently this is cannot be referred to as a conducive environment for learning. These gangs are normally involved in a variety of criminal activities and their effect on the flow of crack and even the drugs exposure to the American schools and within the communities has in a great way led to untold social problems (D. Vigil).
The fact that access of fire arms has become easy makes it possible for the gangs to effectively carry out their activities, and this also poses a great challenge to the police to deal with them. Some time back the conflicts between various gangs would be solved with the use of their fists, today things have changed and the effective way applied in order to settle scores is through the use of handguns and the semiautomatic machines. Currently, the number of the guns within the United States is around 200 million, and this is double the number in the 1970.
Worst of it is that many of these deadly weapons are in the hands of the gangs' members who are at around 100,000 in number. Considering the New York among other urban areas, the issue about gangs has become so rampant that the most vital education resources within schools have now gained another purpose in that they assist in the installation of the mental detectors in all the schools. In each two years in America, just like during the Vietnam War, most of the people are murdered with the use of handguns.
The challenges that face many people by leaving such vast amount of fire-powder so exposed to the youth are exacerbated by a fact that is equally terrifying. Apparently most the juveniles never have a good aim. In the year 1989, Los Angeles District Attorney Ira Reiner gave a report that almost half of the entire drive-by shootings, it being a common practice with the gangs, were just the innocent bystanders. Of late one of the gang members alleged that they never have any target ranges where they get prolific with the alleged guns. When considering the communities that are faced with the most serious problems in dealing with gangs, what most of the people tend to fear is the stray bullet. Just an example, in Chicago there are some reported cases of a good number of children who have killed, around the Cabrini-Green housing complex. These have happened in the course in the event fire exchange between gangs (Dawley).
Recently, the gangs' violence menace has been become a great problem due to a mobility of the gangs. Most gangs that are well known and even have established themselves within the city occasionally relocate their operations in various cities within the country so that they will dominate in other areas in order to gain. This means that so many people within various communities have been affected.
There several reasons why gangs have become so frequent within the US and why most of the young people, children inclusive, admire them, and even wish to join them. One of the reasons is the increased drug trafficking within the cities. These drugs have proved better ways to make good earning for those of young people who are jobless and even those who have gained passion for trafficking of drugs, considering whichever reasons they had to indulge themselves in such activities. Also engagement in such gangs is normally an assured way of easily accessing drugs for those who are addicts of the same, considering that acquiring the drugs may prove quite challenging if one is not a member.
Another factor that has greatly played role in encouraging engagement in such activities is poverty. After joining the gangs, one is quite assured of making some good money out of it hence they are in a position to meet their basic personal requirement or rather the basic necessities, like food and clothing. Some of the gang members do not do it for fun but they do it as a business, to cater for their lives. Racial divisions which cultivate hatred within members of different gangs also have played a role in making different young people to join different gang groups for the support of their colleagues.
Other reasons that may contribute to the spreading these gangs is due to lack of parental supervision, lack of having any recreational opportunities and even breakdown of the family structure. Another factor that may have contributed, though not many people have tried to put into consideration he same issue is the many shows of sexual and violent behavior in the televisions and movies. The breaking down of the community structure and also the church also counts for the increasing number of gangs (Boyle).
The funniest thing is many people regardless of how the gangs have been associated with all sorts of evils, still support their operations and have nothing against the gangs. In fact many of the people have pointed out various advantages of the gang groups, giving various advantages of the gangs as follows: Most of them claim that these gangs normally give companionship to people and one will not have to feel lonely. They claim that it is ones gang members that will offer total protection from other gangs or even any other external attacks. Many also allege that involvement in these groups lets one to have a feeling of belonging, due to the fact that all the members are proud to be associated with their various groups. Another reason put forward is that involving one in these groups is a better way of earning instead of involving oneself in other deadlier activities which cause more harm as compared to the gangs' witnessed cases, just with the aim of gaining money. A point to note is that the moment the advantages of the gang life out weigh the tied up risks, the gang population then grows.
As a matter of fact, scrutiny of the entire processes by the gangs, their lifestyle and any other activity they are involved in, a general conclusion will makes it apparent that the gang activities are not at all acceptable and there is a need for something to be done to immediately curtail their activities. There are some strategies put forward by the government in order to ensure that they have at least reduced the gang activities if not completely bringing them to a halt. In the year 1992, the United States Attorney General made an announcement that there would be a reassignment of at around 300 FBI agents whose work would be investigation of the activities and movements of the gangs. Intense enforcement of law is quite prerequisite, but then one should know that it is not the whole solution. Most of the experts have put a theory forward, claiming that multi-disciplinary, and a community wide approach should be kept in action in order to ensure that the growth of the gangs effectively checked. However it also important to notice that there is not even a single simple solution. If at all there is any positive step that will be put forward pertaining to dealing with gang activities, fear and intimidation should never be tolerated at all (Klein).
Some other techniques that may also assist in the fight may include forbid the wearing of the so called gang paraphernalia. This is normally an outward way of making one get recognized with a given gang group and the security have been just complacent about it. Provision of support to those who have been victims of gang violence and intimidation may still prove a technique to fight gang spread. Also the government may opt to ensure assimilation of the gang-related students into the mainstream, academically or even extra-curricular activities and even socially. Also the government can formulate programs in order to ensure that parents are much involved with their children through some programs of parent training and even counseling.
Still, as a way to curb the growing trend of the gangs, removal of graffiti may prove quite helpful. Consequently this discourages graffiti and maintains the message, and this is an obvious threat to another possible gang from getting through. The government may also provide some sports or even drama facilities, some recreational activities which may be an alternative instead of the gang activity. "Government may introduce gang and general drug prevention into the school curricula in order to instill the message early enough into students' brains, nurture it and finally come up with a responsible person in the community" (Rodriguez).
One of the most effective strategies that have actually assisted in a great deal is carrying out ant-gang activities through the state and community agencies. The government or even may come up with some confidential hotlines to enable witnesses to give out information about evidenced gang activities without fear of retaliation. There should be the sharing of information about the gangs among the major agencies and related institutions. This may include law enforcement, the educators and some other parties who have gained interest in the same events. The government may make some negotiations with the media in order to keep names of the gangs that have may be been involved in criminal activities.
Law enforcement is one of the most effective ways to deal with activities that the government does not condone. It has proved quite important even from the olden days. Some programs should be set up, just like the ones in Los Angeles Police Department's Jeopardy Program whereby those of the officers in this program normally make frequent visits to parents whose children have been confirmed members associated with particular gangs. Arrests of the hard-core members and keeping them off the streets would greatly cause fear of formation of the gang groups. Also swift arrests of the hard-core members should not be hesitated. Information should be shared with all the agencies and working together in order makes the entire process successful. All the violent members in the streets should be removed through conduction of thorough sweeps. In the areas where the gang activities have been introduced recently, officers in the respective areas should be taught how to read graffiti and hence tracking gangs (Capeci).
Gang colors display should not at all be allowed. The tracked gang members should be involved in participation of "Impact of Crime on Victims", programs that are educative I way that they make them comprehend the impacts of their criminal activities on the welfare of their victims, the victims' families, the gangs themselves and the community as a whole. Intelligent programs should be formulated in order to ensure that the gang leaders are not in a position to effectively communicate with their subjects whatsoever.
There should be enhancement of supervision, a lot of counseling and thorough surveillance of the existing gang members or even those of the youths who have been predisposed in order to join these particular gangs. One of the Columbian probation officers, Halliburted, who is the head of one of the remarkable gang prevention program made some suggestions as pertains to the gangs' debated menace. He advised that provision of jobs and even job training for the ex-gang members would help a lot. He also said that identification of the leaders of the same gangs would make even the members feel insecure. Focusing on the relationships with the youths and not only the behavior would also make things work. One of the points that he made clear is that the moment one is dealing with culprits of drugs, they ought not to just focus on the particular good, in this case the drug, as the main issue but instead they should be keen to acquire enough information as to why the drugs are being sold (Amato).
The most important issue that the government and any other body should get much concerned with the most effective way to curb the gang activities, putting into consideration some of the best strategies as listed above, and finally the community will live to tell a story about how trouble got out of their hand. It only requires understanding the operation, movements being mastered and then the relevant steps taken in order to effectively suppress gang activities in the United States. Apparently the greatest percentage of the population has greatly criticized the gangs in operation, but the government somehow seems to condone the same problems, may be desperate on how to handle it whereas the American greater population is not ready to stomach this.