A gang is a group formed by a number of people, who share a same identity either through formation, or organization. According to Charles (2003), the word gang is often associated with a negative connotation. Gang activities are wide and vary from typical organized groups that involve themselves in crimes, to a general class of certain behavior that carry out a collective action intended to attain social solidarity or cohesion, especially in cults, gangs, political parties or unions.
Studies have shown that, various approaches have been applied by the government, the society, law enforcers, and even the experts in an attempt to fight with the social problems caused by various gang groups. The effort is also intended to prevent formation of gangs, to rehabilitate the gangs and punish those who engage themselves in criminal activities within the gang groups. It has been stated that, gang groups differ due to different experiences in culture which include drugs, territory and nightlife. Various Approaches to Gangs
The gang culture approach. According to Shaw, & McKay (2004), this approach looks at the cultural experiences of the young people as the key factor which leads to the formation of gang groups. Young people and especially the blacks have felt discriminated by the media and other social groups; hence they have a tendency to form gangs by feeling hated and stereotyped. Other factors such as the way in which policies of the local governments are set up, deprivation and racism have contributed to the rise of gangs.
The supporters of this approach try to prevent such factors that contribute to formation of gangs, so as to reduce the number of young people joining various gang groups. The aggressive approach is applied by the harsh and conservative governments, who believe that force must be used in order to deal with criminals in the society. Miller (2000) posited that, such governments believe in the application of harsh laws which include the use of guns to fight criminals in the society. These governments employ a Zero-tolerance principle on criminal actions.
The main aim and objective of this group is to bring criminal acts in the society to the end by doing away with any gangs that may be causing such evil in the society. The belief of the aggressive governments is that, harsh measures will instill fear to the youth and discourage them from joining gangs. The liberal approach on the other hand opposes the application and the passing of harsh laws in dealing with gangs. The liberal approach is of the view that, softer laws should be applied with the aim of rehabilitating the gang members and making them better people to live in the society.
This approach advocates for the formation of rehabilitation institutions, where various criminals are kept for purposes of rehabilitation other than just applying the punishment measures. The sociological approach of deviance starts by describing and explaining gangs. This approach believes that, it is important to first understand the causes which lead to the formation of a certain gang, before measures can be put in place either for intervention or prevention of such a group.
This approach therefore involves researchers to carry out an interactive interview with various groups from different cultures to find out the factors that contribute to the rise of gangs. It is after the findings that strategies and policies are put in place to deal with the problem. Conditions Under which a specific Policy may be Effective and the Requirements The liberal approach can work effectively where the government offers good support to the policy makers and the prison departments in dealing with gang members in the society.
For this approach to work, there is need to put in place policies which would allow a good interaction between various gang members and the law enforcers such that, people like the police can first understand the problems which lead to the formation of such gangs so that they can know how to handle the criminals (Shaw, & McKay, 2004). A proper rehabilitation center should be established where the reformed criminals can be used to assist those who are engaging in crimes to change by advising them and acting as a symbol, showing that reformation is possible.
There is need for the government intervention by provision of funds and trained personnel to handle criminals. There is also need to put in place preliminary data, program performance and developed working strategies to ensure that the policy works out effectively. Assessment of a Local Policy Program One of the best programs applied locally in the U. S is the comprehensive community-wide approach to the intervention of gangs, gang prevention as well as gang suppression.
Where all the required equipments and policies are availed, the conditions are suitable to deal with the problem of gangs in the society. Cohen (2005) observed that, this program has been put in place and is designed to test and implement a comprehensive and accurate model for limiting the number of young people who involve them in violence. The U. S government has contributed funds and established institutions which are used to enable this approach work among the youths in the society.
The sites set for this work include the OJJDP’s which is equipped with strong prospects to ensure the approach is successful, preliminary data, program performance and developed working strategies have been put in place. Other sites include the San Antonio Site, the Tuscon, Bloomington and the Mesa. The program involves the whole community in various programs where gang assessment is done, strategies are made, and consensus building is done and is a team oriented method which is used to solve social problems.
Shaw, & McKay (2004) stated that, the program mobilizes the community including the community groups, individual groups, citizens and various agencies, who are provided with social opportunities, economic and academic support. The intervention approach is applied here where the institutions use social intervention street workers, to interact and engage the youth gangs who often stay on the streets in various helpful activities.
Gang suppression is done where informal and formal control measures of criminal justice system and juvenile procedures are carried out appropriately. In comparing this local approach with the earlier approaches analyzed out in this study, the comprehensive community-wide program has been effective, as it captures the elements discussed by other approaches, by ensuring that gang members are first of all well understood by considering the factors that contribute to the formation of such gangs and then moving ahead to tackle the problem (Cohen, 2005).
The program has been effective in involving the community in various programs where gang assessment is done, strategies are made, consensus building is done, and a team oriented method is used to solve social problems. This is a successful way of ensuring that gang members and those who may intend to join various gang groups feel as part of the society and avoid engaging in any criminal acts.
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