The legal argument being stated in this report refers to the developing issue of youth gang criminology that has somewhat flourished and further advanced in the suburban areas of Australia since the 1990s. The term ‘gang’ is debated throughout the cases presented to psychological and criminal observers, argued to be diverse in definition because of its variety to identifiers. What causes the most uncertainty towards the issue is the query of the agenda behind youth gang violence, which is a factor that must be taken into consideration in performing action in anticipating further crimes.
What the main matter of contention is, the controversy of how can legal acts be committed into successfully containing the potential spread of youth gang threats. Criminal observers have dated these organised crimes back a hundred years, originating and nationally developing from the state of New South Wales of Australia. Gang violence practically consists of an organised group of general willing participants that perform acts of crimes; the severity of them differs according to agenda or convenience in availability in numbers or equipment.
Gangs can perpetrate crimes such as prostitution, gambling, extortion, arson, theft to social attacks, assault, murder and terrorism etc. Despite the known history of previous Australian gang activity, petty clashes between young peoples though are misinterpreted as youth gang violence. The effects though, whether originated from gang membership or just from individual illegal activity on the streets between juveniles, are still severe to the current generation of society.
But whether gang violence is subjected to ‘reality’ or ‘myth’, three main issues of intervention are recognised by the police force and surrounding community: Firstly, criminal acts displayed from youth gangs do exist and are a danger to the community, and almost inevitably provoke authorities to take action, despite what is occurring in the grassroots; Secondly, analysis has proven that politic and economic conditions create potential cause for youth gang crimes, now requiring action to forestall further problematic incident; Thirdly, gangs in Australia have been generally radicalised, public discourses being ubject of an ethnic minority of juvenile offenders. Law enforcement has an inadequate background of managing street gang violence, the police force known to be reluctant of getting involved in physical violence, weary of the potential Internal Affair complaints and accusations, despite their past background of aggression. This report is an overview of the crimes and product of youth gang violence in the Australian communities, as well as a summary based on the law relations, opinionated whether effective in the circumstances.
What specifically is youth gang violence? The term ‘youth gang violence’ indicates to an organised assembling of adolescents and juveniles with the suspected intention to commit crimes and cause distress, individually or cooperatively, under a ‘banner’ or title of membership to that specific ‘gang’. Intentions can vary from wanting to have ‘control’ over designated ‘territory’ over suburban areas, to gain infamy or in term ‘respect’, or in a way to find escape and/or have a sense of protection and power.
There is no denying of such activity occurring in the urban streets of Australia, known to be more common in the capitals of Sydney, Melbourne and establishing in the outer occupant communities of Brisbane; but consequently this perception has strengthened due to the media exaggerating and releasing news and images of anti-social teen behaviour, so the perspective of such dealings is generally misapprehended.
Although youth gang violence is a known emerging problem in Australia, many occurrences that have had to result in the involvement of police have been dramatized by the media as ‘gang violence’. The severity of school yard violence has significantly increased in the past decade as students are arming themselves with weapons and assaulting fellow students and staff alike. With violence occurring outside of education centres, investigations have proven leads originally building and existing within their attending school, just having been provoked outside the institutes.
Habitually the breaking news of street or group violence that has any involvement of juveniles and police is distinguished as ‘youth gang activity’ and is repressed accordingly by the police force, even though gang membership might not be the case. Typically viewed upon by stereotypes, assembled from occurrences and news releases in America’s history of gang violence, the law enforcement in the past has aken contentious action against gang suspects but, through observations, police force aggression has been perceived of being at a higher risk of causing resentment from adolescents when dealing with the suspected ‘members’. In fact, severe penalties such as detention have been associated with an increased likelihood of re-offending and a 2002 study showed that young people who went to a youth justice conference were 15-20% less likely to re-offend than young people who went to court for similar offence.
A report released by the NSW Ombudsman in 1999 showed that young people are far more likely than adults to be searched and moved on by police. Many organisations, like OxGang Research Network, and other directed projects, such as the Youth Gang: the Australian Experience project, have made it their goal to ‘study’ the behaviours and movements of adolescents potentially or definitely involved in youth gangs in Australia, with the intention of examining and suggesting further law enforcement to help deprive and prevent further incidents concerning juvenile violence.
The perception of youth gang violence in Australia is confirmed by politicians making negative proclamations about particular youth groups or ‘gangs’ as well as raising awareness in introducing the anti-weapon legislation. Whether the perceptions hold as much sincerity as charges claim, one intervention observation that stands out above all other theoretical concern is that gang violence in Australia does exist and is a developing issue, and nevertheless if it’s an emerging matter or chronic, inevitably authorities will take action to cease any potential or existing threat to the community.
In stating the former point, youth gang violence is a severe occurrence in Australia. 2008, August 02, The Courier Mail released a story “Violent youth gangs take control of streets” reveals an occurrence of adolescents’ assaults on residents of the Queensland community. The paper stated they were ‘operating “like a pack of animals”’, followed by Inspector Greg Carey, crime manager for the Tweed-NSW police command, remarking ‘”There is no doubt it’s a phenomenon that is rapidly escalating in this country,”’. The story had originated from several incidents consisting of juveniles, ‘whose members are as young as 11’ attacking the community.
The report stated ‘drive-by beatings and random ‘swarming’ attacks by teens armed with knives and poles are leaving a bloody trail across southeast Queensland. ’ In Australia, legislations relating to youth gang violence have been committed more forthcoming in New South Wales which concur of the Children (Protection and Parental Responsibility) Act 1997, which enables officers to remove persons under the age of sixteen that display suspicion of gang activity or if they are generally at risk of committing a crime, or in danger of being affected by it.
Another act that was introduced in 1998, the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Police and Public Safety) Act was brought forth with the intention to surmise potential threat by modifying opportunity for weapon use throughout the country. Action that has already been ensued towards youth gang pursuit has come under the perspective that juveniles that are involved in gangs do not have the full intention of causing discord in the streets but to have a place to belong among the residents.
Many programs have tried to obstruct the feeling of alienation from foreign adolescents so as to prevent the conceivable threat of gang membership in the future. Currently, there is no empirical work in Australia to allow criminal investigators to determine the general number of gangs or the number of gang members. A paper published by the Australian Institute of Criminology examines some of the complex issues surrounding youth gangs in Australia; its contents considering what gangs are, what sorts of behaviour they engage in, how they are structured, how they change over time, and how they form and disappear.
Research has concluded a few general factors concerning youth gangs that can be applied across assorted geographic, demographic and ethnic settings, which in customary sense must be considered in order to understand the practical agenda or ‘origination’ of a gang. In this way, authorities can further their chances to discovering a resolution deeming less problematic occurrences throughout. Gangs are diverse – they vary, for example, in ethnic composition criminal activities, age of members, propensity toward violence, and organisational stability.
Gangs do change – they evolve due to direct factors (such as prevention, intervention and suppression efforts) and in response to indirect factors (such as demographic shifts, economic conditions and influence of the media). Reactions to gangs also vary as well as its outcomes – some communities indefinitely deny they exist while others sensationalise them if one is identified. Some communities establish task forces to address gang issues while others conduct assessments to determine the nature and scope of youth gang incidents.
Effective responses do prove to be diverse – communities have developed various responses to gangs, including prevention, intervention and suppression or enforcement. International research has also increasingly emphasised that gang formation is a social process involving complex forms of membership, transformation and disintegration. These elements challenge the standard stereotypes of gangs that both can be influenced by media or enforcements. Youth gangs can differ from each other in many ways including their size, members’ ages, whether they are territorial and/or whether they have criminal tendencies.
For many young people, gangs serve to provide a sense of social inclusion, support and security. They can also provide opportunities for status, group identity and ‘excitement’. Consequently, in the dealings with infinite occurrences subjected to youth gangs, successful outcomes require delicate attention and action. Enforcement preserves certain areas of law in which aggression is used and can be deemed necessary; however, physiological observations show that the youths that involve themselves in anti-social behaviour is a result of their own personal abuse and neglect.
Circumstances practically need to consist of indulged examination and efficient research before severe and potentially permanent action can be conducted. Harsh and permanent penalties do not address the systemic problems underlying juvenile offending. Poverty and neglect are the strongest predictors of youth gang crime and these are not addressed by punitive responses to crime. Supervision based research has proven that large numbers of adolescents in the youth gang system had been in state care and/or homeless. The majority had left school extremely early, mostly before starting Year 10.
Many had also proven to have a mental illness or disorder. However, juvenile offense rates occurring in Australia have declined from 4092 per 100 000 juveniles in 1995-1996 to 3023 in 2003-2004, mannerly proving authorities and criminology researchers are dealing adequately with the threats of youth gangs more so than prior action. Methodologically, addressing perceived gang problems requires adoption of a problem-solving model. Understanding gangs and gang problems is ultimately about what people can and are willing to do at a local level to provide local solutions for the community.
An example problem-solving model applying to gang problems can consist of four steps: 1, Scanning, which consists of the potential process of searching for and identifying gang problems, and narrowing the community’s view of a general gang problem to more specific problems, such as graffiti, drug sales, violence; lesser but not degraded. 2, Analysis, which can involve in efficiently investigating the specific gang dispute in greater detail by considering the origination, and what form the problem can consequently take, leading to queries as who is and can be harmed and how, and when the problems have and might occur. , Response, which involves an effort to conceptually link specific problems with specific local responses, and to survey potential approaches and projects that might provide a further insight into how best to address specific issues in that specific community context. 4, and Assessment, which can process and conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of the strategies, to whether or not the problem has been diminished, or whether the problem needs to be redefined and the considering of the development of appropriate criteria regarding community safety.
Youth gang criminology is a diverse and delicate topic, differing in origin and varying in acts. One important feature in authority based action is the process of intervention, considering the major and acute factors regarding adolescent anti-socialism. Major dispute applying to juvenile crimes associate with the lack of national data research justifying the origin and perceived outcome of organised gangs. Perceptions viewed by both the local public and enforcement authorities however are influenced by inadequate policing, resulting in more aggressive and out-bursting action which then causes reaction of resentment from the engaged juveniles.
Further observation and physiological research should conduct not on the general behaviour of youth gangs, but should attempt to disestablish potential problematic occurrences throughout the community, as a way in breaking down crimes and threats. Action should be taken methodically and systematically, understanding the varying strategies and outcomes of different circumstances. Youth gang violence will be a chronic display in Australia, whether degraded or over-exaggerated, action must be and will be taken to prevent further effect on society.
Courtney from Study Moose
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