Gang delinquency is on the rise in the United States. Juveniles account for 19% of the population but are being held responsible for 29% of criminal acts. Gangs can be identified as a stand out group based on tattoos, clothing, or jewelry. For gangs, the more members they have the more territory they have. One problem all major cities have in common is gangs, most in which are made up of juveniles who are just looking for trouble. Many members of the gangs were brought up in similar neighborhoods and are drawn together by having similar interests.
There is no agreed-upon definition of gangs in the United States. Youth gangs and street gangs are often used interchangeably in news coverage. There are various gangs known in the United States such as, motorcycle gangs, hate gangs, prison gangs, and even terrorist organization groups (NIJ, 2011). However, the federal definition of gang used by the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security is an association of three or more individuals whose members identify themselves by a group identity or name (NIJ, 2011). Their purpose is to engage in criminal activity by using violence or intimidation (NIJ, 2011).
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A typical gang normally shares common territory and have similar culture beliefs. For example, having to dress a certain way, how to behave, knowing the history and knowledge about traditions of the gang (Carlie, 2002). Each culture of the gang changes from generation to the next by socialization. The norms of a gang show which behaviors are expected and accepted by the members. If violations arise of the expected norms, punishments that range from minor to severe may occur (Carlie, 2002). Gangs also have a language of their own that they only know. Graffiti and hand signs are also another type of language used. Understanding what the graffiti and hand signs used mean could be key factors into us understanding what they are trying to communicate (Carlie, 2002). Another important characteristic of a gang is their tendency to organize almost anything (Carlie, 2002). Some organization of gangs may vary on your status within the gang.
Any gang can pose a tremendous threat to citizens. Violent crime has been decreasing since the early 1990s (Houston Gangs, 2009). However, some communities, small cities, rural and suburb areas are experiencing violent crimes caused by street gangs. The FBI agrees that gangs are multiplying and migrating in the inner cities, as well as the rural and suburb areas (Houston Gangs, 2009). These gangs can strike at any given time. They are selling drugs, breaking into homes, shooting around neighborhoods, robbing banks and stores, and ingraining fear everywhere they go (Houston Gangs, 2009). These gangs are spreading to the internet and our communities intimidating everyone they come in contact with. These gangs pose a clear and present danger to our national security and also impact the quality of life within the communities (Houston Gangs, 2009). However, gangs can be a danger to themselves. If a gang member interacts with someone or something you are not supposed to, it can cause a scene with you and the gang you represent.
Overall, gangs are not something you to want to be around or be caught in. They pose a high threat of danger not only to you but to your family, friends and community. Each gang has its own layout of threats they pose and do not give warning when or where they will strike. Another unknown factor is what kind of damage these gangs are capable of. Having a good knowledge of what gangs are in your communities and local areas are a plus. Getting the word out could change or even save lives. The best thing anyone could do it to inform the youth of what issues gangs cause and what trouble they pose but also to inform local police of the gang issues so they are able to stop the gangs and violence that come with them.
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