Gangs are a violent reality that people have to deal with in today's cities. What has made these
groups come about? Why do kids feel that being in a gang is both an acceptable and prestigious way to
live? The long range answer to these questions can only be speculated upon, but in the short term
the answers are much easier to find.
On the surface, gangs are a direct result of human beings' personal wants and peer pressure. To
determine how to effectively end gang violence we must find the way that these morals are given to the
individual. Unfortunately, these can only be hypothesized. However, by looking at the way humans are
influenced in society, I believe there is good evidence to point the blame at several institutions. These
include the forces of the media, the government, theatre, drugs and our economic system.
Gangs are caused by peer pressure and greed. Many teens in gangs will pressure peers into
becoming part of a gang by making it all sound glamorous. Money is also an crucial factor. A kid (a 6-10
year old, who is not yet a member) is shown that he could make $200 to $400 for small part time gang jobs.
Although these are important factors they are not strong enough to make kids do things that are strongly
against their morals.
One of the ways that kids morals are bent so that gang violence becomes more acceptable is the
influence of television and movies. The average child spends more time at a TV than he spends in a
classroom. Since nobody can completely turn off their minds, kids must be learning something while
watching the TV. Very few hours of television watched by children are educational, so other ideas are
being absorbed during this period of time. Many shows on television today are extremely violent and are
often shown this from a gang's perspective. A normal adult can see that this is showing how foully that
gangs are living. However, to a child this portrays a violent gang existance as acceptable. 'The Ends
Justifies the Means' mentality is also taught through many shows where the "goody guy" captures the "bad
guy" through violence and is then being commended. A young child sees this a perfectly acceptable
because he knows that the "bad guy" was wrong but has no idea of what acc!
eptable apprehension techniques are.
Once this mentality is installed in youngsters they become increasingly prone to being easily
pushed into a gang situation by any problem at home or elsewhere. For instance, in poor families with
many children or upper-middle class families where parents are always working, the children will often feel
deprived of love. Parents can often feel that putting food on the table is enough love. Children of these
families may often go to the gang firstly out of boredom and to belong somewhere. As time goes on, a
form of love or kinship develops between the gang members and the child. It is then that the bond between
kid and the gang is completed because the gang has effectively taken the place of the family.
The new anti social structure of cities also effects the ease in which a boy/girl can join a gang.
The formation of gangs in cities, and most recently in suburbs, is facilitated by the same lack of community
among parents. The parents do not know what their children are doing for two reasons: First, much
of the parents' lives is outside the local community, while the children's lives are lived almost totally within
it. Second, in a fully developed community, the network of relations gives every parent, in a sense, a
community of sentries who can keep him informed of his child's activities. In modern living-places, where
such a network is attenuated, he no longer has such sentries.
In male gangs problems occur as each is the members tries to be the most manly. This often leads
to all members participating in "one-up-manship". Quite often this will then lead to each member trying to
commit a bigger and more violent crime or simply more crimes than the others. With all members
participating in this sort of activity it makes for a never ending unorganized violence. In gangs