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NCJ Number: 181949 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Street Baptism: Chicano Gang Initiation
Journal: Human Organization  Volume:55  Issue:2  Dated:Summer 1996  Pages:149-153
Author(s): James D. Vigil
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: Ford Foundation
New York, NY 10017
National Institute of Mental Health
Bethesda, MD 20852
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Initiation into Chicano street gangs has developed over the years into a kind of "street baptism," functioning as a rite of passage for the initiate and as a rite of solidarity for the gang.
Abstract: At the same time, the initiation process fulfills a pragmatic need to screen potential new members for fighting skills and courage valued by the gang, as well as some of the psychological needs of youth attempting to cope with adolescent age and gender role identity crises. Most gang members are initiated at about age 12 or 13 and, for most, the ritual simply formalizes the membership toward which participation in street activities has long been prepared them. The initiation typically involves several gang members attacking the prospective member at the same time. The initiate is expected to fight back and cannot show any fear or weakness. The severity of the beating inflicted depends both on the initiate's prior standing with the gang (those who grew up with gang members or who have relatives in the gang fare better) and on the mindset of those conducting the initiation (severe beatings are far more common when participants are intoxicated). Similarities between the street baptism and male initiation rites in pre-industrial tribal societies suggest both address similar problems in the gender and age role identity resolution of young people. 17 references and 1 note
Main Term(s): Juvenile/Youth Gangs
Index Term(s): Gang member attitudes; Gang violence; Hispanic Americans; Hispanic gangs; Juvenile gang behavior patterns
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