Criminal Justice Essay Paper on Social Learning Theory on Gang Violence

Social Learning Theory on Gang Violence

Gangs represent a violent reality that people have to tackle in the contemporary world. What has led to the upshot of gang violence? Why do people, especially the youthful, feel that being part of a gang is a suitable and impressive lifestyle? The long-term response to such inquiries can just be contemplated upon, though the short-range responses are much simpler to get. From the outside, gangs appear as a direct outcome of people’s individual desires in addition to peer pressure. A successful determination of the way to stop or prevent gang violence has to establish the manner in which such morals are borne by a person; apparently, this can only be hypothesized (Pratt et al., 2010). Through study of how people are influenced in the community, social learning theory implies that the blame could be placed on different associations such as the media, substance abuse, the financial system, and the government.

Through studies at the impact of the media, substance abuse, theater, and the economy, the position of the social learning theory in addition to the Marxist theory concerning the source of gang violence is applicable. The social learning theory handles the pressure of the media, substance abuse, and theatre and affirms that criminal and delinquent conducts are acquired, repeated, and altered through the same progression like compliant conduct. It as well handles four key conceptions of differential association, descriptions, differential strengthening, and simulation and affirms that the progression is highly probable of producing conduct that infringes social and legal standards than compliant conduct when people differentially associate with the ones that render them to criminal patterns, when the criminal pattern is differently strengthened over compliant patterns. On the other side, Marxist theory affirms that capitalism is the source of gang violence. Marxist theory stresses that possession of the resources of production by the capitalist ruling group generates an essentially delinquent community. The theory affirms that the immoral conducts are the felonies of adjustment to the system (McGloin & Decker, 2010).

  As it appears, peer pressure and covetousness lead to gang violence. The majority of teenagers in gangs will influence peers into joining the gang through making their experiences sound enticing. Money is as well a key feature (Alleyne & Wood, 2010). For instance, teenagers that are yet to join the gang could be told that they could get even $300 for simple part-time tasks in the gang. Though such are significant aspects, they are not powerful enough to lure teenagers into doing things that are strongly contrary to their morals. Among the means through which the morals of teenagers are corrupted so that gang violence appears suitable is the influence of some TV programs and movies, which is stressed under the social learning theory. In the contemporary world, the average teenager takes more time watching TV and movies compared to being in class. Because no one can totally put off their thinking, teenagers have to be learning many things from watching television and movies. Only a few hours of the TV watched by teenagers are enlightening thus other notions get absorbed in the course of most of the hours.

Some TV programs and movies are exceedingly violent and are frequently based on a gang’s viewpoint (Bellair & McNulty, 2009). For adults, they can fathom that the programs and movies could be demonstrating the way gangs are existing horribly. Nevertheless, teenagers assume that the TV programs and movies demonstrate the suitability of gang violence. The attitude of the end justifying the means is as well taught through different shows where the good guy seizes the bad guy in the course of violence and then gets praised. When teenagers watch this, they view it as completely suitable since they believe that the bad guy was incorrect but have no notion of what suitable apprehension methods are.

The violent behavior in TV programs and movies play a key function in influencing the minds of the teenagers and youth (Bellair & McNulty, 2009). Teenagers and youth view the violent acts and are enthralled by the actions that they have not watched before. For adult viewers watching such violent acts, they are not interested with the actions of bloodshed but instead with the suffering the victim must be feeling. Some teenagers and youth cannot make such a connection while watching the violence in the TV programs and movies. Unluckily, most children that grow up in homes where they are exposed to watching violent TV programs ad movies without restriction end up building strong propensity to joining gang violence or a violent, acceptable individual, as they view it.

Gang violence positions the criminal norms of the community into friendly contact with the person. Therefore, it is evident that if television programs and movies makes teenagers and youth have conviction that violence is the norm, the actions will manifest itself in their activities, normally in gang violence. This is particularly apparent where parents do not take time with their children while they are watching television programs or movies at home and make them understand what is right and wrong in what they are watching. Usually, some books and kinds of music work to reinforce violent thoughts and deliberations. When this mindset is installed in the teenagers and youth, they become highly liable of being easily compelled into a gang condition by any difficulty at home or in a different place. For example, in poor homes having many children or middle-class homes where parents are at work most of the time, children will usually feel stripped of love. The children from such families might join gang due to boredom or in search of intimacy from their peers, which is lacking at home (Alleyne & Wood, 2010). With time, a kind of intimacy is generated between the teenagers and the members of the gang and the bond among them is completed since the gang has successfully acquired the position of the family.

The anti-social formation of urban places also influences the simplicity in which teenagers and youth can engage in gang violence. Gang violence in cities, and in suburbs, is enhanced by the lack of society among parents where parents are not aware of what their children are engaging in (Alleyne & Wood, 2010). This is because parents spend most of their time outside their local community whereas the children their lives nearly entirely in the community. Another cause is that in a completely developed society, the set-up of dealings somewhat offers every parent sentinels that ensure that he/she is aware of his/her children’s activities. In the contemporary cities and suburbs, such a network of relations is weakened; the parents do not have such sentinels any more.

In the gangs, the problem with male members arises where every one of them wants to be the manliest, which makes them take part in a kind of one-upmanship. Normally, this will make every member attempt to make the biggest and most violent crime or many criminal activities than every one else in the gang. Since every member is involved in such activities, there exists an unlimited unplanned violence fling (Alleyne & Wood, 2010). In gangs with well-informed members, such feelings lead to one of the members eventually becoming the star and the gang leader. This results in the gang becoming organized and the morale of the members increasing, which makes the gang violence more dangerous and difficult for the law enforcement agents to stop. Such kind of gang violence is usually simple for middle-class and upper-class members though it could occur in the gangs of the low-class too.

Every gang feels influential and seeks to be dreaded. To attain this, they attempt establishing themselves as the dominant gang in a given region. In cases of gang fights, abhorrence erupts and gang killings and drive-by shootings start taking place. Where two gangs are at war, the security of the residents in the region is also affected. About 45 percent of the drive-by shootings kill their target victim yet more than 50 percent kill the unintended individuals. This is among the many reasons why sexual stereotypes as well as force to adapt to the same have to be monitored (Alleyne & Wood, 2010).

Among the great aspects of joining gangs is for defense (Esbensen, 2010). Though from an objective perspective, joining a gang is perceived to cause more danger than it saves a person, such is not the way teenagers and youth view it. For instance, in most slums, teenagers and youth indubitably get waylaid, beaten, and robbed unless they are members of a gang. Certainly, such teenagers and youth would not receive such handling when in a gang. Some gangs will even contribute some money to their members who have the responsibility of feeding their families. From propaganda perpetrated by the gang members, teenagers and youth feel attracted to joining the gangs in search of refuge. Gang members insist that none of their own will get hurt and create a public show of vengeance when any member is hurt, arrested, or killed.

Individuals in impoverished regions are normally muffled because of poverty and most significantly, ethnicity (Esbensen, 2010). This usually leads to an approach that motivates the individuals to base their existence on executing what the organization that represses them does not desire. Though this has minimal influence, it is a critical aspect in gang connection. All the aforementioned aspects of gang violence could be attributed to the social learning theory that postulates that learning is a cognitive practice that happens in a social background and could arise entirely through watching or direct training. Apart from the observation of conduct, learning could also take place via observation of prizes and penalties. In this regard, through watching violent activities and being influenced by members of a gang, teenagers and youth easily get involved in gang violence.

In conclusion, it is evident from the social learning theory that gang violence is a creation of the environment that individuals form. Some of the aspects that lead to gang violence encompass the media and peer influence to mention a few. There appears to be no successful manner of ending the problem of gang violence devoid of completely restructuring the contemporary economic and value systems as the police force often demonstrates increasing incapacity to completely stop or prevent this problem. With the chances of such an occurrence negligible, people have to learn to handle gangs and make efforts to minimize their enrollment.


Alleyne, E., & Wood, J. L. (2010). Gang involvement: Psychological and behavioral characteristics of gang members, peripheral youth, and nongang youth. Aggressive behavior, 36(6), 423-436.

Bellair, P. E., & McNulty, T. L. (2009). Gang membership, drug selling, and violence in neighborhood context. Justice Quarterly, 26(4), 644-669.

Esbensen, F. A. (2010). Youth violence: Sex and race differences in offending, victimization, and gang membership. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Temple University Press.

McGloin, J. M., & Decker, S. H. (2010). Theories of gang behavior and public policy. Criminology and public policy: putting theory to work. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1(1), 150-165.

Pratt, T. C., Cullen, F. T., Sellers, C. S., Thomas, W. L., Madensen, T. D., Daigle, L. E., & Gau, J. M. (2010). The empirical status of social learning theory: A meta‐analysis. Justice Quarterly, 27(6), 765-802.