"Understanding and Responding to Youth Gangs: A Juvenile Corrections Approach"

Essay by spiritladyUniversity, Bachelor'sA, August 2005

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"Understanding and Responding to Youth Gangs: A Juvenile Corrections Approach"

Youth gangs are very attractive to youths in the inner-cities of America. These gangs are usually very corrupt and violent. What many people do not realize is that these gangs are having a large impact on not only the youth of America, but this country in general. A youth gang is a group of adolescents, primarily twelve to eighteen years old, whose members describe themselves by a single group name and are recognized by society through this name. They usually involve themselves in organized crime which includes such acts as drug dealing, murder, and rape. Their acts receive negative publicity from society, and law enforcement agencies. Other characteristics of a gang include a formal leader, initiation requirements for all prospective gang members, its own slang, symbol and "territory." There are three primary types of youth gangs: territory gangs, who protect a common ground; organized gangs, who primarily deal drugs; and scavenger gangs who have a common goal in mind ("Gangs").

According to a national law enforcement study conducted in 1996 by G.D. Curry for the National Youth Gang Center, the ethnicity of gang members is estimated at 48 % African-American; 43% Hispanic; 5% Caucasian; and 4% Asian.

Why youths join gangs is discussed frequently in the world of psychology. Reasons youths become gang members include: lack of positive role models; low self-esteem; physical safety and/or security; peer relations; sense of identity; increased status; opportunities for excitement; and making money fast, especially by selling drugs. When a youth does get in a gang, they do not realize they are not an individual anymore. By gaining acceptance into a gang, the youth now becomes a "gangster." There is no difference between men joining than women; both are looking for the same...