Youth Participation In Gangs Essay

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Youth participation in gangs actually decreased from 1996 to 2004, but the violence within these gangs has not. Homicides committed by youth gang members still remain as a monumental problem across the United States of America. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reported in its 2004 survey of youth gangs that there were an estimated 760,000 gang members that year. Many of the kids affiliated with gangs come from lower income, single parent homes; therefore, the youths of America often turn to gangs to fill the void of not being part of a “family”. To combat this problem and save our youth from a life of malfeasance, the people of the communities of America must take a stand against the negative influences that impact …show more content…
Although there is no trend data that would prove that drug trafficking and gangs coincide with one another, there are numerous studies that show that gangs, such as the Chicago Vice Lords, have had substantial involvement in the drug trade since the mid 1980’s (Decker & Howell P2).
To fully understand why the level of violence is so high amongst youth gangs, we must first understand what factors can be associated with joining a gang. According to Sue Titus Reid, “poverty, unstable living conditions, the availability of drugs and alcohol, parents who tolerate or commit violence, falling behind or failing in school, and ‘hanging out’ with delinquents” (Reid, 2008, p.375) are all factors that can contribute to joining a gang. Of course not all gang members fall under all of these categories. However, these are the main contributing factors. Among the factors listed, availability of drugs and/or alcohol and parents who tolerate or commit violence are the two most influential agents for a gang member to commit violence as well. In fact, a child who is exposed to violence in the home is 30-40% more likely to commit violence as they grow older themselves. After joining a gang that percentage increases to 60-70%.
The other issue is the involvement of drugs. The drug trade often goes hand in hand with gang activity. There are multiple opinions and arguments as to

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