From Chicago to Rio, from Jamaica to Nigeria, gang violence is leaving an indelible mark on communities across the globe, leaving authorities at a loss for what to do about the epidemic of lawlessness among young men who see little hope in their futures. Certainly the global economic crisis has much to do with the rise in gang violence and influence, as young men of color in most of the affected countries see few options for gainful employment.
Indeed, gang violence is a growing epidemic across America and according to the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, “gangs are expanding, evolving, and posing an increasing threat to communities. ” In fact, a disturbing trend is for children as young as 8-years-old to be involved in gang activity. Gang violence is an enormous and big problem in every major city, there are multi-generational gangs, with kids growing up in gang families, although out the US. There’s also gang members recruiting kids who are around 8-years-old. It’s only when they are teenagers that we really start to see the violence. There are many reasons why a pre-teens and young people decide to join a gang. At the top of the list is a need for power and recognition, especially for youngsters who feel a sense of hopelessness because of racism, poverty or a lack of support. Who is trying to tackle the issue of urban decay and kids living in war zone? Before the age of eighteen, the average American teen will have witnessed eighteen thousand simulated murders on TV. While staggering in number, more disturbing is the effect this steady diet of imaginary violence may have on America’s youth.
Over the past forty years, more than three thousand studies have investigated the connection between television violence and real violence . Though none conclude a direct cause and effect relationship, it becomes clear that watching television is one of a number of important factors affecting aggressive behavior. Another thing is lot of people look at what they are running to but we look at what they are running from. Is it a lack of something, or could they be be running from a dysfunctional home? Most often they feel isolated and cut off and the gangs offer them love, family and protection .
There are several clues that parents can spot to indicate that a child is involved in gang activity. Some of the early signs that kids have joined gangs are signs or symbols parents haven’t seen before, changes in behavior at home or in school, becoming more secretive and starting to wear specific colors. Parents need to be active in their children’s life and not give them the chance to create alternative role models. They need to be bilingual to understand the language of their children and what their child is going through.
Parents can protect their children by being involved in their activities and making sure they have positive role models to keep them out of gangs. Parents fail to realize that an idol mind is the devils territory, provide your children with after school programs which soaks up the downtime that a lot these kids have. The resolve to this on going out of control issue is to implement a comprehensive strategy that includes prevention, intervention, re-entry and law enforcement. There are many indicators whether the child is likely to join a gang, such as 1. hether he or she is committed to the code of the street, 2. a lack of commitment to school 3. substance abuse. The issue of youth gang violence and firearms is defined far more by what is not known, than what is known. Regardless of the approach taken, it is clear that there is a desire, and a need, for more accurate and comprehensive data on youth gang violence and firearms in the US. When I read about the relationship between violence in the media and violence among our youth I extrapolate the findings and think of them in regard to gangs.
When it comes to the portrayal of gangs and gang members, the mass media sometimes go into great detail. They portray the language, dress, body movements, and look of a gang member – male and female. They show, in explicit detail, the crimes gang members commit – how drugs are sold, how to ” shoot up” (inject drugs intravenously), how to free base, how to rape someone, how to stab or shoot someone, how to settle disputes using violence. The list is very long. The problem is that it is the wrong list in terms of socializing our youth into acceptable, legal behaviors.
I also believe there are unsupervised children who, fed a constant diet of television and rap music violence, begin to emulate it, particularly if there are others who are doing the same thing. Every child wants to be accepted. If I am rejected by the “good kids,” perhaps the “bad kids” will want me if I act and think like they do. And there are those who feel frustration and anger who, after a media portrayal of violence, feel purged of such feelings. The impact of media portrayals of gangs and the activities of their members help us understand why gangs form, but sometimes gangs form by following in the footsteps of others.