This is an excerpt from a research paper I wrote called Juvenile Gangs and Prevention.
|Juvenile Gangs and Prevention Excerpt
Gangs are another serious factor for juvenile crime in the U.S. because gangs have been present since the first European immigrants arrived and are still thriving today in many areas. The gangs have changed in method and make-up over the years, but they are basically the same. Gangs specialize primarily in supplying illegal items and services to the public. This is how the mafia thrived in the 1920s and 1930s – through alcohol prohibition. Drug prohibition is the main source of revenue for today’s gangs. Gangs have also always been known for violence, community influence, and a hierarchical power structure.
Many people get involved with gangs at a young age and this happens for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is a lack of family support. The American society has changed in ways that have led to a breakdown of the family structure. Parents are not at home to supervise or guide children. This can lead to lost children looking for a place to fit in and some of them choose gangs to fill the void left by the absent family. This change in the family has occurred over the last 50 years, while gang involvement has increased dramatically as well in that time. Many juveniles also join gangs because they believe it will help them to gain status in the community or protection from the dangers of their neighborhood. Gang involvement often leads to juvenile involvement in rapes, assaults, drug trafficking, and even murder.
Prevention programs have been focusing on reducing gang involvement and gang violence since the 1980s and these programs had been successful in decreasing the number of gang homicides by the late 1990s. Studies have shown that most violent crimes committed by juveniles were gang-related in the 1990s and there was an increase in juvenile violent crime during the early-mid 1990s. There have been many prevention programs founded in urban areas that aim to keep kids from joining gangs. These programs have been successful in building self-esteem, helping children to learn coping skills, and helping troubled children to make positive changes academically and socially. With more of these programs being sponsored more children have the skills needed to avoid gang involvement than 20 years ago. The same problems exist in the family that existed 10 years ago, but many prevention programs target the family and strengthen the family as a means of juvenile crime prevention. These programs have helped America’s youth to be less susceptible to gang involvement in recent years by teaching skills, building self-esteem, and strengthening families.