Poverty Is Widespread In The United States

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Poverty is widespread in the United States and mainly affects children. Multiple risk factors families that are extremely poor, greatly increasing children’s risk for chronic health problems, school failure, and other poor outcomes. Social problems weaken a society’s stability but do not reflect fundamental faults in how the society is structured.

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Solutions to social problems should take the form of gradual social reform rather than sudden and far-reaching change. Despite their negative effects, social problems often also serve important functions for society. Many people who live in poverty, have multiple generations living in one household. When large numbers of low-income people live together there are inherent problems as well. There are struggles in which it is physically difficult to get public transportation. For parents and children, there is a lack of amenities such as the supermarkets, internet and recreational areas or groups for children to stay active. Within these concentrated areas, they lack security, have higher rates of crime, and do not have the resources available to them unlike, non-poverty living households.

Trends in family structure and other social, environmental, and emotional issues that affect families also are contributing factors to family poverty. It is estimated that almost one-third of children who are poor are poor because they live in a family headed by a single mother. Sixty-five percent of children who are poor versus 25% of children who are not poor live in households that do not include their biological father. (Childrensdefense.org. 2018) Fifty-five percent of children who live in single-parent, mother-only families are poor compared with only 10% of children in two-parent families. The loss of the wage-earning power of the absent parent, usually the father, compounded by the frequent failure of fathers to comply with child support judgments drive the majority of single-parent, female-headed families into poverty, regardless of whether the mother works.

Trends in family structure and other social, environmental, and emotional issues that affect families also are contributing factors to family poverty. With a large effect of these social issues, this may lead to cause people to juvenile delinquency, which is showcased throughout each movie including just tangles of hopelessness, fear, and rejection; A Better Life (2011), Crips and Bloods: Made in America (2008), Gran Torino (2008), First by summarizing and comparing each plot, connecting the social issues to criminological theories in order to come to a greater understanding, as well as possible solutions in how to so avoid these issues in the future.

A Better Life (2011) demonstrates the life of undocumented immigrants who merely working day by day in America in the hopes of ultimately living the American Dream. Carlos Galindo is a single father who is raising his fourteen-year-old son, Luis. They struggle to make ends meet but they persevere every day to do so. Luis is dating a girl who is affiliated with the gangs and his friend seems to be infatuated by the gang life as well. Being a single father, and constantly working there is not much they have on their own or any parental guidance happening in the home.On the other hand, Carlos’ attempts to improve his and his son’s life by having to seek work out on his own. Eventually, this leads him down a misfortune.

He agrees to take over a colleague’s gardening business but by having a trusting heart, he finds his truck is stolen by the man he offered a job too. Luis steps up to fight for his dad’s truck and through this, they are able to regain their father and son connection but risks bringing his undocumented status to the attention of the law. In conclusion, they are pulled over by the police and Carlos is arrested and placed in prison as an illegal immigrant. He is quickly processed, and Luis gets to the prison just before Carlos is about to board a deportation bus. They both put their guard down to forgive one another for their behavior of not being there to help each other out and he’s deporter. Towards the end of the movie, they show the gang searching for Luis, while alone and hiding he decides to make things better for himself and his dad by focusing on soccer and school.

Social problems weaken a society’s stability but do not reflect fundamental faults in how the society is structured. Solutions to social problems should take the form of gradual social reform rather than sudden and far-reaching change. Despite their negative effects, social problems often also serve important functions for society. Many people who live in poverty, have multiple generations living in one household.

When large numbers of low-income people live together there are inherent problems as well. There are struggles in which it is physically difficult to get public transportation. For parents and children, there is a lack of amenities such as the supermarkets, internet and recreational areas or groups for children to stay active. Within these concentrated areas, they lack security, have higher rates of crime, and do not have the resources available to them unlike, non-poverty living households.

Gran Torino (2008) is a movie in which depicts upon the story of a Korean war veteran, Walt Kowalski, who also happens to be a deep racist. There are many factors which lead up to him being so unhappy all the time. His wife had passed away and does not have a positive relationship with his grandchildren and judges heavily on his sons who questions his masculinity, he feels as if he gains no sense of independence due to him now being alone and older. He has killed Korean soldiers at war if he sees them as inferior. Throughout the film, he gets new neighbors and a large culture clash with his Hmong neighbors. He refuses to leave Detroit just because Latinos, blacks and now Asians have moved in and are involved in gangs. Walt has a realization that it is difficult for different types of people to get along due to the root of the issue being, there is a large lack of understanding.

Furthermore, during the funeral reception at Walt’s house, he notices his new Hmongneighbors moving next door, a teenager Thao Vang Lor and his outspoken sister Sue.
He is not excited about their presence including their widowed mother and grandmother. Thao is eventually confronted by his cousin Spider, who is a member of a Hmong gang. Thao hesitates to join but eventually gives into with peer pressure. he ritual offense that must be carried out by Thao is to steal the Gran Torino car, a prized possession car that Walt himself had helped build in his days as a worker at Ford, and which he maintains with particular dedication. Walt quickly has a realization that someone is trying to steal his car, and Thao has to flee. The failure of the ritual prevents the passage and integration of Thao into the gang. In this case, his initiation into the order of violence has failed. Despite the failure of the ritual, the Hmong gang tries again to assimilate Thao. It is at that moment that Thao’s true initiation occurs instead of being assimilated, initiated, by the Hmong gang he decides to pay much more attention to Walt.

Crips and Bloods: Made in America (2008) is a documentary which primarily focuses on the emergence of gangs in Central Los Angeles. There are interviews which historians, educators, and African-American gang members like Kumasi speak upon the constant violence which occurred in the neighborhoods he grew up in. His story was told, along with other past gang members: Slausons Ron Wilkins and Bird for Stacy Peralta’s documentary.

Throughout the documentary, the hip-hop soundtrack (Public Enemy, Tupac, Gnarls Barkley), Crips and Bloods observes that 30 years of gang warfare left a large negative impact on those who lived it. Born into this circumstance, they all must make choices, in other words, so does the political and social system that reproduces the circumstance. Beginning with the 1950’s era where black and whites were forced to be kept separate which meant segregation and dark skin meant they were inferior and less valuable. Meaning, black children did not have the right to join the Boy Scouts of America, which resulted with African Americans beginning their own groups with their own rules and fed them a better sense of belonging and status.

Continuing, the police practically demoralized African Americans and lasted for quite some time but, riots began forming due to the unfair treatment throughout Los Angeles because residents became angry and were no longer going to stand to live with poor living conditions they were being forced to live in. Years later, children idolized the fights that they viewed people in their neighborhood put up and children acted out in the same manner which many lacked any type of other direction in the community which with fights, guns, and a craving for a sense of belonging, formed the gangs of Crips and Bloods. Children heavily looked at gang life for protection, especially since many were raised with only a single mother from other opposing gangs by becoming victimizers instead of victims.

Women are socialized into submissive roles and taught not to question the privilege of their male counterparts. Whereas, for men, Machismo is thought to be more dominant among U.S. Hispanic groups than non-Hispanic populations. However, these gender role characteristics are more likely to be attributed to men from more traditional cultures. Gender roles in patriarchal societies tend to perpetuate these roles. (Marsiglia & Kulis, 2016, p. 86)

“According to the National Youth Gang Survey, African American and/or Latino youth predominate among gang members. About half are Hispanic/Latino, one-third are African American, and about 10 percent European American.” (Siegel & Welsh, 2014) African American gangs are across the nation with Bloods and Crips being rivals but known to do similar acts of delinquency as in distributing drugs, assault, robbery, and homicide.

Latino Gangs are known for their loyalty to their home gang and in order to be involved in the gang, there is a ritual as to committing a crime to prove their machismo or masculinity. The concept of machismo is a culturally defined attribute associated with U.S. Mexican and other Latino men. “It has come to have a number of negative connotations, such as a chauvinistic and tyrannical male character, an exaggerated masculine posture, extramarital sexual activity, involvement in physical abuse and violence, displays of physical courage or daring, heavy drinking, and the imposition of restrictions on women’s freedom of movement.” These negative machismo stereotypes result in prejudice and discriminatory behavior toward Mexican American and other Latino men. (Marsiglia & Kulis, 2016, p. 11)

Asian Gangs differentiate from traditional ethnic centered groups. They seem to be much more secretive. They are not as territorial, depending on the age of the member assigned the types of crimes being committed. Younger members of the gang to collect unpaid debts in gambling parlors in which elderly members run. Overall, each of the gangs they are either social or criminal they each have a common presence as in how they’re presented, involved in creating graffiti, and drugs. (Siegel & Welsh, 2014.)

Choice theory is the thought holding that people choose to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior after weighing the consequences and benefits of their actions. This is theoretically through detailed planning and decision making designed to maximized personal gain and avoid capture and punishment. Overall it is an illegal act was done after weighing pros and cons motivated all by a variety of personal reasons greed, revenge, jealousy, need, anger, lust, thrill-seeking or vanity. (Akers, R. 1990)

The following contributing factors are also background factors as in psychologically, the person may not be able to comprehend what is right from wrong. Social aspects is another, family and peers. In each one of the movies, there was multiple time where their peers would pressure them into doing something to prove their masculinity and determination. Another is demographics and consumption of drugs and alcohol. The person than contemplates and weighs the pros and cons as in their chances of getting caught, how severe the punishment may be, the reward of going through with it, and how bad they really need to go through with committing the crime.  

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