Gangs have received significant attention from policymakers, sociologists, and more from the police for virtually a century now (Melde & Esbensen, 2013, 144). The extent and the offensive nature by these gang groups are solely the reason why they attract so much attention. The level of violence involving these gangs is substantially higher surpassing normal heights of such unbecoming behavior in the societies. Gang violence is alleged to be a grave crime problem, with organized criminal activities and suspected associations with drug traffickers across the borders. In fact, the differentiating factor between gangs and ordinary social grouping is the violent delinquency, especially among the youth. Even though it is clearly known that gangs and their members are involved in severe violent delinquency, it is much less known the role played in eliciting this anti-social behavior among their members.
Conversely, police have put their focus on gangs instead on individual criminals or rather suspects. There are legislations affecting criminal organizations that allow for the arrest of associates, gang members, family and friends of parties involved directly or facilitating criminal operations. The ultimate objective is to dismantle the gangs and consequently manage criminal operations thus the police have developed a philosophy to go after the gangs. The move by the police has been frustrating to the gangs to the extent of protests in the streets against the police. The black people in Baltimore, for example, are launching accusations and complaints against the police force. Allegedly the gangs targeted by the police in Baltimore and other cities in the United States are predominantly made up of black people (Beare & Hogg, 2013, 423). These allegations have made the gangs to take to the streets against the police accusing them of racial discrimination according to this video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmLtftf-tEY&feature=youtu.be .
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Gang research to date has been based primarily on sociological and criminological perspectives; hence it calls for a better understanding of gang affiliations and how psychological processes impact the same. Peer groups and other social structures reciprocal associations bring about gang memberships according to interactional theory. This theory argues that the environment or social setting an individual is brought up in affects their behavior. Diluted social bonds like lack or poor parental support and delinquency fortification by associating with deviant peers can increase the chances of one affiliating with a gang (Kendall, 2015, 5). Criminal or violent behaviors can be learned through observation hence such moral decadence can be controlled and prevented.
There are a number of risk and protective factors as identified by researchers for gang membership. They are categorized in three most important domains: a person, family, and peers. Researchers have identified features associated with gang affiliations. Robust deductions can be represented by the role of attitudes at the individual level. Delinquency and nonconventional attitudes pose a higher risk of being an affiliate of a gang. Deviance attitudes or high tolerance of deviant behaviors increase the peril of being a member of a gang. There are inconsistent findings within the family domain. However, there is evidence purporting that poor parental management and having family members in a gang can influence one in becoming a gang member. In addition, family structures with low socioeconomic status, for example, single-parent households increase the possibility of an individual in joining a gang. Association with peers with violent delinquency can easily influence an individual to become an affiliate gang member. This domain is consistently and strongly linked to the youth.
Beare, M. E., & Hogg, C. (2013). Listening in… to gang culture. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice , 55 (3), 421-452.
Kendall, D. (2015). Sociology in our times: The essentials : 10 th edition. Cengage Learning.
Melde, C., & Esbensen, F. A. (2013). Gangs and violence: Disentangling the impact of gang membership on the level and nature of offending. Journal of quantitative criminology , 29 (2), 143-166.