Criminology/Gangs In America term paper 16274

Criminology term papers
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GANGS: ON TARGET WITH OUR YOUTH by Jesse Radoslovich Sociology 2B 5/21/01 Final Project It was late at night. A lady pulled into a gas station and walked inside to get something to eat and pay for the gas she pumped. While she was paying for the gas, a young boy snuck into her car with a knife. The store clerk was quick to react as the lady left the store. Mama, I didn t give you the correct change. In a hurry to get home, she quickly ran back into the store. He had no money to give her. Mama. There is someone in your car. I m calling authorities. Walk slowly to your car and wait for the police to arrive. Following his orders, she cautiously walked to her car. Right before she took out her keys, a squad car turned into the gas station parking lot and pulled a young boy out of her car. His objective was to kill the lady as an initiation into his gang. He had to show his loyalty to his new family (1999 Burnett Internet). Ranging from each corner in the United States, gangs exist. Some are big and some are small, but in the end, most of their intentions are the same. Gangs are known for their violent behaviors and drug abuse. Targeting today s youth, gangs affect our societies more and more. In order for gangs to function, they must have gang members. In the United States alone there is an estimated number of fifty-five thousand gang members with ninety percent of them being male. According to statistics, a large number of gang members come from two popular gangs, the Bloods and the Crips. These two gangs originated in Los Angeles and have spread their members all over the United States. They are beginning to display themselves in bordering countries to expand their numbers (1995 Webb 21). Gangs have different status. Just like any other social structure, there are higher and more respected ranks than others. At the bottom of the pecking order are the lookouts. Their age usually ranges from seven to ten, and they are not usually members of the gang yet because they are not responsible or old enough to take on the responsibility to be a full-fledged member. Their jobs include monitoring each street corner while a drug deal is being made or a crime is being committed. If any of the lookouts spot a suspicious vehicle or police car they must immediately give warning signs to the other gang members (1995 Webb 42). One step above a lookout is an initiate. These are the people who have proved their loyalty to their gang through some sort of an initiation. They must have a positive attitude to withstand whatever pain or torture it takes to become a true member. Some initiations include getting jumped several times by members of your own gang, playing Russian Roulette, spitting on someone s meal if you work in a restaurant, or killing an innocent victim. These initiations vary from gang to gang in intensity and severity (1995 Webb 43). Ex-gang member Saroeum Phoung remembers his gang initiation. When he committed to being part of the Boston Red Dragons, he had to go through a lot of pain. He was told that if he wanted to be in the BRD, he had to be beat up every day for one week. While walking home from school every day, five or six guys jumped him and beat him up. While the beatings only lasted thirty seconds, he received multiple bruises, three broken ribs, a broken nose, and cuts from a razor. At the time, he thought he was really tough, but today when he looks back at what he did, he is very regretful (1996 Atkin 22). Another position which is more important than the initiates, are neighborhood leaders or corporals. Depending on the number of people in one general area, corporals can be in charge of one hundred to two hundred people at a time. They have control over all the members and what they do. The neighborhood leaders are in charge of all the money, weapons, and drugs that flow in and out of the gang s possession (1995 Webb 43). A step above the neighborhood leader is the honchos or better known as generals. These gang members supply drugs, weapons, and cars to small town gangs. All of their orders are approved by the top power level (1995 Webb 43). At the very top of the gang ladder is the kingpin. He is usually a life long gang member with the most experience. He is usually an adult. Their job determines what deals his gang members regulate and where they will take place. He will have connections to the big time drug dealers in the United States as well as other well known drug countries like Mexico and Columbia. Because of the power he has, he usually lives in luxury. While his members are making money for him, he sits at home and bosses people around. His decisions have a huge impact on his members. Most gang members with a low ranking will never know or meet the kingpin (1995 Webb 44). Today s youth are joining gangs faster than ever before. The reason is closely related with family life outside of school, jobs and gangs. Before most kids even think about joining a gang they experience hard times at home. For the majority of them, their parents abuse drugs themselves usually in front of the child. As they grow up, all the money their parents make may go towards their drug habits and their kids are emotionally abused and left without love or attention, which everyone needs. This results in them joining a gang to fill their emptiness. Ennis Beley joined a gang at the age of eight when his parents abandoned him. While walking through a marked gang territory other than his own, with his gangs colors on, he was shot eight times and left to die. His death was noted not unusual for a gang member in a local newspaper (1996 Carlin 79). There are three kinds of gangs. The first is a social gang. They are usually a permanent group that hangs out at a specific location such as a friends house. Members with close friendship often participate in social gatherings like going to the movies or going ice-skating. Members of this group will hold normal values and beliefs and will be accepted by peers and teachers as the average student (1999 Clayton Internet). The second gang is called the delinquent gang. This group of people is a less desirable group accepted by adults. They participate in trouble-making activities and assist others when their help is needed. They are involved in crimes like auto theft and burglary. The leader is usually very organized and can plan things out well. The members of the gang are impulsive when it comes to crime and are able to organize their time and efforts for criminal activity (1999 Clayton Internet). The most destructive and criminal gang are the violent gangs. These highly organized gangs are very good at planning and carrying out violent acts. Leaders tend to be unstable at times and feel the desire to order around people they are in charge of. The structure of their group may change every day along with their enemies. Allies one day can become enemies the next. They usually have some way to identify their group either through dress or gang signs (1999 Clayton Internet). Every gang has some way to identify itself. It may be by graffiti, clothing, gang signs or color. Each one of them gets the point across. Color combinations are chosen by a kingpin or highly respected gang leader to identify its gang. Once a set of colors is chosen, the colors are worn by the members. They can express their colors by wearing clothes like jogging suits, sweatshirts, and hats. Other ways to identify themselves are through the positioning of their clothing. For example, they may wear the hood of their sweatshirt over their jacket, or tilt their hat to one side. Other clothing expressions include one pant leg rolled up or a sheet of color representing the gang worn under hats (1999 Clayton Internet). They express themselves through other methods than clothing. Earrings worn on the left or right ear with a certain symbol, rings work on specific fingers and buttons imprinted with the gangs sign can identify a loyal member to his gang. A number of changes in a child can be warning signs of gang involvement. Some warning sings are drug use, a drop in grades at school, a noticeable change in friends, and having large sums of money or expensive items which cannot be explained (1999 Clayton Internet). If these early signs are unnoticed, then maybe some of these definite signs of gang membership will be noticed. Some of these signs are gang graffiti on school books, wearing gang clothing or colors, using hand signals to communicate with other gang members, or having gang tattoos such as three dots under the left eye. Some steps parents can take to prevent their children from joining a gang are talking to them about gangs and discussing the consequences. Also, just spending family time with them and giving them the love and attention every child needs, can prevent them from wanting to join a gang (1999 Clayton Internet). Many young children are joining gangs today and the numbers are increasing faster that ever. Gangs have brought violence and drug use into our nation and the prevention starts at home. By giving your child the love and attention they need, they won t feel so depressed and forgotten about that they choose to join a second family or gang. It all starts in the home.


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