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NCJ Number: 148504 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Gangs of Mexican-American Youth
Journal: Sociology and Social Research  Volume:28  Dated:(1943)  Pages:55-66
Author(s): E Bogardus
Date Published: 1943
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
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Box 6000
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United States of America
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the prevalence and patterns of gang activity of Mexican-American youth and critiques the public and police response to Mexican-American youth, particularly those who wear "zoot-suits."
Abstract: The gang activities of Mexican-American youth received nationwide and international attention in the media in August 1942 and again in June 1943. The incidents at issue involved gang warfare such as has existed in every large urban area throughout the world ever since cities have emerged. The gang behavior publicized contained no elements not revealed in Thrasher's study of 1,313 gangs in Chicago nearly 20 years ago. An injustice is done to Mexican- American youth, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding, when gang warfare is played up in the newspapers, when police are reported to "round up" hundreds of "Mexican youth," and when sailors are publicized as taking the law into their own hands in "cleaning up Mexican youth." Newspaper accounts have fed the public perception that Mexican-American youth, particularly those who wear "zoot- suits," are generally involved in criminal and antisocial behavior. The gangsterism of some Mexican-American youth should be viewed as part of a broader picture of gangs of various racial and cultural compositions. The delinquency of a small percentage of Mexican-American youth is due in part to the difficulty of adjusting to a new culture that offers new freedoms. School is difficult and work opportunities are limited, in no small part due to discriminatory practices by employers. Both the public and police must assess the plight of the Mexican-American youth from a more rational and sympathetic perspective. Antisocial behavior is due to factors unrelated to race, and these cultural, social, educational, and economic factors must be addressed if antisocial behavior is to be prevented. A constructive response would entail each local community planning and coordinating activities for juveniles' after-school and leisure hours. Job training for youth is also essential.
Main Term(s): Juveniles
Index Term(s): Gangs; Mexican Americans; Police-minority relations; Race relations; Race-crime relationships; Racial discrimination; Racially motivated violence
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