Comprehensive View of Street Gangs
Critique of the Reasons why an Individual Joins a Street Gang
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Every individual who joins a street gang has his/her own motives, but, in general, this decision is mostly affected by pulls and pushes. Pulls are connected with attractiveness to be a member of a gang. For instance, those people who are members of a certain gang may receive a special status among their friends or enhance a considerable prestige. Moreover, gangs also give an opportunity to earn money by means of selling drugs. According to this fact, many young people who do not have a good job prefer distributing drugs since they can earn more. Besides, there is no need to have any specific skills. Hence, one may see personal advantages of joining a gang.
Another side of the criminal membership includes various social, economic or cultural aspects. For instance, one of the main reasons as well as the biggest advantage to be a member of a gang is protection. After becoming a part of such illegal association an individual can expect this group to protect him/her from other units of similar origin or to provide support when it is needed. However, there is also the third factor, which predetermines the membership in a gang, namely inevitability. A particular number of young people are forced into gangs, being left no other choice. As a rule, it refers to ghettos where each area is controlled by a certain gang, and ts impact is impossible to escape. In some communities, children are already born in gangs and, following their parents they become a part of a criminal world respectively. According to the above mentioned facts, one can state that there are three main reasons provoking youth to join gangs. They are protection which also implies social status; an opportunity to increase your income illegally and a family heritage in other words, ineluctable destiny.
Summary of American Street Gang History
1900's - 1920's
The gang members of those years were represented by homeless beggars and filthy immigrants. They were a group of dirty children and bearded guys. Since the majority of the populace was covered with soot and mud from the nearby coal mills, no one could tell anybody apart; therefore, gang fighting was almost impossible (Greenberg & Watts, 2009).
1920's - 1940's
Gang bosses from Italy and Ireland started taking over the streets of Chicago, New York, and downtown Beloit (Covey, 2010). Many gangsters chose extremely unintelligent nicknames such as "Sticky Fingers", etc.
1940's - 1960's
The criminals of the mid 1950's wore plain jeans and white shirts. They had more habitual American names wiith endings "-ie". That generation was mostly concerned about their attractive image. The main activity was standing around with their arms crossed, smoking cigarettes, and asking if anyone had any more cigarettes (Franzese, Covey & Menard, 2006).
1960's - 1980's
This was "The Era of the Pimp". These gangsters peddled not only alcoholic drinks and drugs but also women. They dressed more fashionable and were considered more stylish. Besides, they were the first who vigorously hit women. The leader, who ruled the streets, possessed absolute powers and authority. The subordinates committed misdemeanors for a boss by holding unusual jewel heists and speeding along the streets. In the mid-80's, gangsters changed into less obsequious and started wearing jeans with the cut out knees and extravagant homosexual colors (Bruneau, Dammert & Skinner, 2011).
1980's - current
The majority of gangsters are represented by Hispanic and black – muscular African-American guys and Latinos. This obvious minority capture of the gang is in sharp contrast to the previous 80 years, which were mainly controlled by foolish white guys. This period was the time when gang members actually started committing serious crimes, including cutting through police officers with a chainsaw and drug dealing (Bruneau, Dammert & Skinner, 2011).
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