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Does Race Play a Part in Youth Gangs: What Motivates Youth's to join Gangs?

gang member, race, youth gangs, racial identity, society, ethnicities, gang activity, race's part, deprivation

What Motivates the Youth to Join Gangs?
Race and Deprivation

The primary reason many youth’s get sucked into the pool of gang membership is due to the feeling of finally belonging somewhere, at least for a good percentage of them. Gang’s often look out for one another and are ultimately willing to put their very life in danger for another gang member. Some youth’s are more susceptible to falling into the gang trap than others are. Those kids who feel disillusioned with their lives and deal with feelings of neglect from their parents, are more apse to become a member of a gang than a kid who is just gong through some sour patches in his or her life.

Also, inner city kids in states such as New York are often drawn to gangs simply by a yearning to find safety in their life. They feel by joining a gang they will have some form of protection but often this is just one of the falsities of this lifestyle. Danger and violence are around every corner for a gang member. If they are not having problems with the law then they are having conflicts with other gangs. There really is no safe haven for a gang member, even though some believe in this type of fantasy.

According to an article by Lawrence Rosenthal (2000), he claims that one theory on this could have to do with race and racial discrimination or hate crimes due to race. Youths of mixed ethnic background catch heat from all sides, but in a gang environment they are welcomed and looked at as equal to any other gang member. It is the unity and group equality that draws them into the trap. Once in, they aren’t able to find an easy exit out; that is if they want one. Another theory is that it gives them a sense of power and dominance, where before they might have been considered weak minded, as well as physically weak. They are incited by the control they believe they have in their life and over others so they choose to become more intertwined with gang life by making their gang membership more prominent.

Gang membership is felt to be necessary for survival for some inner city kids as it provides the means for self protection and therefore self preservation. For more youths, there is no escaping becoming a gang member. They either join or they get killed for turning away. That is a very sad summation but one that is based on fact, not opinion (Rosenthal 2002). However, following a view point in an article by Stephens (1994), gangs only promote more violence and therefore there needs to be more secure, preventive measures established to keep youth from becoming involved with it.

In conclusion, if society as a whole would simply reach out more voluntarily to the disadvantaged youth, perhaps there would be an improved window of hope to do away with gangs entirely. America’s youth deserve a better chance at life, more than what they are getting. Society can provide them what they need and drastically reduce juvenile gang crime at the same time.
Published: 2006-04-10
Author: Misty Keith

About the author or the publisher
Misty Keith is a wife and mother of three. She has been published in many venues on the web, as well as one print publication. Currently she works for clients, assisting them with academic papers of all genres. She can write in non-fiction, fiction, horror, romance, inspirational, motivational; basically all creative styles are a familiarity for her. Creativity and Inspirational are her favorite styles.

Misty Keith

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