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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 147683 Find in a Library
Journal: Gang Journal  Volume:1  Issue:3  Dated:(1993)  Pages:45-50
Author(s): J Collins
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 6
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This case study of an ex-gang member focuses on the factors that influenced him to become involved in group criminal behavior and the circumstances that fostered his subsequent choice of a legitimate lifestyle.
Abstract: At the time of the interviews with "Joe," he was 67 years old and had been "straight" for over 30 years. Joe was born in an east coast mill town in 1925. He was the only surviving son of immigrant parents and was next to the youngest in a family with eight sisters. What he remembers most about his childhood was being poor and hungry. There were many common threads running through Joe's experience that are present in the lives of most other youths who become involved in gangs. Much of this is consistent with Jankowski's recent work (1991). Joe was born into a large, poor, immigrant family. He spent most of his time in the streets with other kids in his neighborhood. He was both coerced and anxious to be involved in the excitement in the streets. He stole for money and fought for survival. He enjoyed the power, status, and respect of being a notorious gangster. During the period 1930 to approximately 1955, Joe's experience was typical of gang members. Joe's story conforms to various theories of juvenile delinquency. The differential opportunity theory pioneered by Cloward and Ohlin (1960) explains the limited opportunity and structure for Joe to develop a law-abiding lifestyle. Social disorganization theory explains the gang's attraction as Joe's only means of gaining status, respect, and reputation among his peers. He broke from the criminal lifestyle due to a combination of factors, including recognition of the increasing dangers of such a lifestyle, getting married, and having children. He committed himself to providing his children with a different and better life than he had while growing up. Although gang tactics and activities may have changed from Joe's era, many of the underlying social problems that contribute to the emergence of gangs remain the same. 14 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile/Youth Gangs
Index Term(s): Case studies; Juvenile delinquency factors; Juvenile delinquency theory; Juvenile gang behavior patterns; Juveniles
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