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NCJ Number: 203324 Find in a Library
Title: Why Do Children Join Gangs?
Journal: Journal of Gang Research  Volume:11  Issue:1  Dated:Fall 2003  Pages:65-74
Author(s): Mark Rizzo
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 10
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Following a review of the history and current manifestations of gangs in America, this paper identifies some of the factors in contemporary American life that attract youth to gang membership.
Abstract: In discussing the definition of youth gangs, the author notes that although definitions vary, most include the following elements: a self-formed group, united by mutual interests, that controls a particular territory, facility, or enterprise; uses symbols in communications; and is collectively involved in crime. Youth gangs have thrived in urban areas such as Chicago and Los Angeles, where urban economies have produced an underclass of low-skilled workers in low-paying, temporary jobs in the secondary labor market. Several gang researchers have argued that crime, delinquency, gangs, and youth violence have increased in the 1980's and 1990's as a result of such postindustrial economic and social conditions. Some researchers argue that the "underclass" status of minority youth pushes them into gangs, where they interact with other youth in similar circumstances in an effort to upgrade their status in the community and experience the power of intimidation through gang activities. Research has identified risk factors for gang membership related to youth maladjustment in the domains of community, family, school, peer groups, and individual attributes. The author focuses on the crisis of "meaninglessness" among youth in American society, which he attributes to the absence of spiritual influences in the major institutions of society that impact the minds and values of youth. He argues that "until we recognize the essential role that God's Word the Bible has to play in the way we live and raise our children, we will continue to experience and perpetuate a spiritual vacuum and the breakdown of the family." 10 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile/Youth Gangs
Index Term(s): Economic influences; Gang member attitudes; Gang Prevention; Juvenile delinquency factors; Parent-Child Relations; Psychological influences on crime; Religion; Social conditions
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