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NCJ Number: 228955 Find in a Library
Title: Indigenous Youth and Gangs as Family
Journal: Youth Studies Australia  Volume:28  Issue:3  Dated:September 2009  Pages:47-56
Author(s): Rob White
Date Published: September 2009
Page Count: 10
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: This paper explores the relationship between gangs and families as this relates to Indigenous young people.
Abstract: The role of gangs as a substitute family for many youth has been widely documented in youth gang literature. Gangs provide a source of support, solidarity, and social connection, and fulfill some of the functions of a close-knit family unit. The question remains "what happens, when the gang and the family are one and the same?" The purpose of this paper is to explore the ways in which Indigenous youth experience gang activity stemming from family membership and family obligations. Interviews with Indigenous young people who are described by themselves or others as gang members demonstrate a series of overlapping issues in their lives which include: 1) the identity politics of the everyday is manifest in close communal and family ties among Indigenous youth gang members; 2) systematic discrimination and racism is a feature of everyday life for Indigenous youth, and social harm and humiliation is a daily experience uniting Indigenous youth people, thereby shaping their self-esteem and identity; 3) specific locations are subject to intense forms of territorialism; and 4) racism is countered by both strong family ties and strong anti-racist sentiment, and group membership is about shared experiences, shared feelings, and shared familial links which can accommodate the non-Indigenous. The gang performs the functions of a supportive family while actually being family in social composition. The gang is both a network of emotional and material support and an important outlet for aggression and resistance. There must be a shift away from seeing the gang as the main problem in order to reconstitute the gang as family in a more positive and less antisocial direction. References
Main Term(s): Gangs
Index Term(s): Australia; Family structure; Gang member attitudes; Group behavior; Home environment; Individual behavior
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