Juvenile Violence and Delinquent Behaviors
Youth gangs have become ubiquitous aspects of any contemporary community not only in the United States but also across the globe. Nevertheless, the dynamics between the youth and gang-related vices is not straightforward. Despite decades of social research, as well as the launching and effecting of community crime prevention programs, gangs remain a significant social problem. Over the last decade, the most concerning issue has been the involvement of youths in most of the reported gang violence cases within the criminal justice system. Winton’s (2015) investigation on youth gang indicated that in the U.S there are an estimated one million juvenile gang members, a figure substantially higher than the number of law enforcement officers. Additionally, the study indicated that gang membership between the ages of 5 and 17 years old have been on the rise with 2015 figures showing a 52% increase from the same figure in 2001 (Rodgers & Baird, 2015). In a country that is highly dependent on its youth to maintain a culture and develop new divers’ social profiles, the United States is arguably under attack. There is a need to forecast how juvenile violence and delinquent behaviors associated with gang activity could be effectively prevented or deterred, a factor that is the center of this manuscript.
One of the most cited reasons for youth joining gangs has been the desire for companionship or family values. According to Okada, Maguire, and Sardina (2018), most youth aged below 14 years do so due to a sense of belonging, loyalty, and acceptance. Through status, gangs offer a sense of companionship, as well as the attention that most youths from broken homes or those with problems at school lack. Therefore, one way to predict the existence of youth gangs is identifying children who exhibit individual psychological strain both at school and at home. A study by Rodgers and Baird (2015) indicated that youths who lack physical safety and protection in neighborhoods and areas with high poverty rates are also highly likely to join gangs. Lastly, youths who do not comprehend the consequences of joining a gang and are attracted to peer gains are susceptible to simple tokens that may lead to gang membership.
Another reason why the youth join gangs is because of the current social ties to materialism. The advent use of social media has seen a high number of youth become attached to the material aspect of life. In areas with high levels of poverty, the only way to have these items is through drug peddling or racketeering which are controlled by gangs. According to Okada, Maguire, and Sardina (2018), young individuals are not told or educated about the consequences of violent anti-social behavior. Consequently, they join gangs for quicker success. Additionally, the entertainment sense makes the gang life attractive due to the material aspect. In summation, peer pressure on social media and financial gain has provided the youths with an avenue to join gangs a factor that may affect the next generation of youth significantly as social media continues to gain popularity.
The best way to curb delinquency and juvenile behavior that leads to gang-related crime it through the causes that attract individuals to such organizarions. [U1] The manuscript presented highlights the two major issues that can be used to predict and later prevent youth gangs, namely family values and material gains. Nevertheless, as above-mentioned youth gangs have grown to be ubiquitous aspects of any contemporary community; consequently, there is a need to tackle organized crime diligently.
Maguire, M., & Okada, D. (Eds.). (2015). Critical issues in crime and justice: Thought, policy, and practice. SAGE Publications.
Okada, D., Maguire, M., & Sardina, A. (Eds.). (2018). Critical Issues in Crime and Justice: Thought, Policy, and Practice. SAGE Publications.
Rodgers, D., & Baird, A. (2015). Understanding gangs in contemporary Latin America. Handbook of Gangs and Gang Responses. New York: Wiley, 478-502.