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Youth Violence and Gang Membership in America Essay

Abstract

Youth violence and its continuing growth as an epidemic seems to greatly impact and influence the increasing numbers of gang membership in cities and states. Without proper suppression of this epidemic, at risk youth are at greater risk of committing violent crimes and beginning affiliations with gangs or becoming active gang members themselves. There is myriad of reasons for the link between youth violence and gang membership that add to the spread of gang membership in cities and states. Most of these reasons are factors such as poverty, lack of social acceptance, disorganized homes and delinquent behavior. These factors calculated with other problems such as peer pressure, poor academic performance in school and the overall social environment of at risk youth; add to the growing problem of youth violence and its continued influence on growth in the numbers in gang membership and increase the number of violent crimes committed by youth.

In order to reduce the growing numbers of gang membership and combat the growing problem of youth violence in cities and states, proper suppression of this epidemic must be accomplished through gang prevention and intervention programs to teach at risk youths the risk and dangers of crimes, violence and gang membership, harsher juvenile offender laws to deter repeat criminal offenses and gang related activities, more interactive and improved positive home environments to show caring and provide sustainable environment that keeps youth from becoming at risk due to the characteristic of a loving family.

After school programs to keep kids involved activities like sports, and games to keep them off the streets and away from the influence of youth violence and gang membership. This paper will outline the various risk and dangers of youth violence and its impact on the growth and spread of gang membership in cities and states. This paper will also outline the various efforts, programs and legislations put in place to help combat, control and suppress the epidemic of youth violence and its influence and impact on the growth of gang membership and crime in cities and states. Introduction

The intention of this proposed study on the youth violence, crime and gang membership is to examine explore various reasons that contribute to the link between youth violence and gang membership and explore how the relationship between youth violence and gang membership can cause the spread and growth gang membership and crime in cities and states the results of this study will provide important information and insight to the various elements and factors such as poverty, broken homes, lack of social acceptance etc. and how those factors play a role in youth violence and how youth violence can ultimately lead to gang membership and committing crimes of a violent nature for many troubled or at risk youth, and how without proper suppression of these problems such as providing a more structured community environment for at risk youth, to create positive intervention to deter youth violence and gang membership in cities and states and stricter laws and legislation being implemented to punish youthful or juvenile offenders to encourage positive choices by at risk youth, this will greatly impact the youth population who will grow up and lead healthy and productive lives.

Problem Statement

Youth and gang violence has been an issue for more than two decades. There is myriad of reasons for the link between youth violence and gang membership, most of those reasons or factors such as poverty, lack of social acceptance, disorganized homes and delinquent behavior, continue to impact and influence the majority of lives for at risk youths in cities and states who commit crimes and join gangs. Lack of guidance and social injustices that plague at risk youth place pressures on at risk youth that become overwhelming and the overwhelming majority of at risk youth seem to be giving into these pressures causing them to commit crimes and join gangs so they can fit in and belong to something that fills the void of the lack social acceptance, provides a home for them no matter how corrupt it is and allows at risk youth to act in uncontrolled delinquent behaviors and this expands youth violence, crime and gang membership to different cities and states helping this epidemic of youth violence and gang membership grow.

Through various studies and research it may be possible to understand why so many youth choose violence and gang membership as a way out. But the aim of this study is to understand why and how youth violence and crime impact the growing numbers of gang membership and its spread in different cities and states. Is proper suppression and intervention the real solution to combating youth violence and crime and the growing numbers of gang membership in cities and states?

Hypothesis

The growth in youth violence and crime is increasing the numbers of gang membership in cities and states and without proper suppression, this will greatly reduce the youth population who will grow up and lead healthy and productive lives. *Note: the positive correlation will show how an increase in the independent variable (the growth in youth violence and crime), will cause a decrease in the dependent variable (the youth population who will grow up and lead healthy and productive lives).

Background and Literature Review

Youth and gang violence affects and influences 20-30% of the lives of children and teens. It is an epidemic that seriously impacts and changes the lives of children and teens; it causes delinquent behavior, loss interest in school or the need for an education and increase in violent crimes committed by children and teens. The most dysfunctional youth especially those who develop anti-social behavior due to abuse, broken homes or lack of peer acceptance and fitting in and who begin experiencing increased levels of conduct disorders are the most at risk for high levels of youth violence and criminal activity that can contribute to potential involvement in gang affiliation or membership (Howell J. C., 2007). 3 Specific dynamics were classified that are relevant in guiding this study and correlates with the topic of serious problems and contributing factors of youth violence and gang membership. One of the dynamics or factors identified in this article contributing to youth violence and gang membership is alcohol and substance abuse juveniles who drink or use drugs like marijuana are 3.7% times more likely to join gangs.

The second dynamic or factor is academic problems. Children and teens with learning disabilities contributing to low self esteem are 3.6 times likely to join gangs. Poor academic performance and loss of interest in school correspond to a 3.1% chance of youths risk for joining a gang. And the third dynamic or factor in this report that is a contributing factor is Family, juveniles or youths in single parent families are 2.4% likely to join a gang than those in two parent homes. Poor parental supervision and low parental attachment 9 out of 10 times lead to gang membership (Stephen Johnson and David Muhlhausen, 2005). Five national basic strategies of gang intervention and suppression that correlate with the topic of lack of proper intervention or suppression of youth and gang violence will reduce the population of youth who will grow up to be productive and lead healthy lives, are best expressed and explained in a book by (Malcolm W. Klein, 2006).

This book exposes the many ineffective attempts that have been made to suppress youth gang involvement and the deterrence of youth violence associated with gang membership. This book also examines and identifies community and societal changes that are crucial toward the mobilization and effective efforts needed to suppress youth and gang violence. This book also correlates with the topic of increasing numbers of gang members and the spread of localized gangs to other cities and states is becoming a compelling problem for law enforcement, by focusing on the multiple patterns of gang activity and their shifts in populations of different cities and states. And this book examines the political responses and financial resources that correlate with the topic of how the spread of gang members to other cities and states has become a compelling problem for law enforcement.

Summary

This study will help increase and enhance the awareness of the existing problems with youth violence, crime and the increasing numbers of gang membership and also add to the body of knowledge that already exist about the dangerous dynamics, influences and impact that youth violence and crime have on the growing numbers of gang membership inside cities and states, and how those dangerous dynamics continue to influence and impact the lives of at risk youths and continue to prevent majority of them from have productive and law abiding lives. Multiple research studies have been done on youth violence and crime and how they affect the dynamic of growing numbers of gang membership and corruption in cities and states.

But other studies were not done from an in depth look at the overall dynamic of the problem, instead of the belly of the beast of the dynamic being studied which is youth who are gang members or at risk youth with gang affiliation or connections being explored a through non experimental design controlled measure of self designed questionnaire designed only to explore and distinguish the most at risk factors associated the most serious dangers of youth violence and crime and gang membership the answers obtained from the willing participants in this non experimental design at risk questionnaire will be used to determine and distinguish differences in noted real life experiences and talked up tall tales to gain recognition by a peer review and response of participants so that the differences can be measured use to calculate how youth violence, crime and gang membership all influence and impact the stability of life for serious at risk youths.

Having a non-experimental design such as this will be a beneficial in helping better explain the at risk potential of youths by using a descriptive measure that determine the differences between the participants based on their answers that will really show the depth of who is seriously at risk and who is not.

Research Design

The purpose of this study is determine how and why youth violence and crime so greatly influence and impact the growth and spread of gang membership inside cities and states. This study utilized the quantitative research method and a non- experimental design. A non- experimental design consist of testing relationships between variables without controlling or manipulating subjects and conditions (Maxfield, 2009). This particular research design was chosen for this study because it uses time as a natural experiment and allows casual order to be established, it expands the ways in which the general study can be taken without limits and time restrictions. The measurements of the independent and dependent variables are taken at the same time, and the non experimental design over all is realistic and a better representation of the initial goals of this study by control of extraneous factors statistically that strengthen the efforts and perceived intentions of this study.

Specifically designed questionnaires created by the researcher were designed with 10 in depth but short and easy to answer questions pertaining to youth violence, crime, gang affiliation and actual gang membership. These questionnaires were distributed with the help of acquaintances of the researcher who are inner city counselors in the city of Little Rock Arkansas where this study was conducted and the results from this specifically designed questionnaire were used to evaluate the highest at risk potential and for youth who have been in trouble for crimes and who have gang affiliation or have been or who are currently gang members. Using these results a list was created to examine and explore the various type of crimes and gang affiliations or gang memberships existed between the at risk youthful participants and this was used to evaluate the particular part of this population that was chosen for this study.

Sampling

The sampling plan for this proposed study consist of non probability sampling, the type of non probability sampling used in this study was convenience sampling the population N= 1000 out of 2500 possible in the proposed population are accessible and easiest to recruit due to the complex nature of this study convenience sampling was selected because it would be impossible to represent the whole population without bias and was less time consuming does not require generalization of the whole population just the population under study. 1000 out of 2500 potential participants were chosen based on the highest risk factors of gang violence, gang affiliation and gang membership and that data collected was used to provide the samples of at risk youth that were chosen for this study.

N= 1000 the particular population chosen for this study n= 500 out of the 1000 based on the answers of the questionnaire had been in trouble with the law or had broken the law in some way between the ages of 15 and 17 n= 200 out of the other 500 youthful participants chosen for this study have been or are currently gang members n= 300 confessed or admitted to being a gang member or having been a gang member.

Data collection

1000 at risk youth out of 2500 were selected based on risk factors and potential of having been in a gang, having gang affiliation or being in a gang or having committed a crime the determination of these risk factors and potential were based answers given to the questionnaire distributed by the researcher and his acquaintances that aided in the study the selected population N= 1000 that were selected for the study had the overall highest grossing factors and potential for being affiliated with gangs based on their answers the population N= 1000 selected for this study had committed a crime between the ages of 15 to 17, had been known to have gang affiliation as early as 9 to 12 years of age and most had become fully fledged gang members by the age of 15 to 21.

It was determined based on the specific answers of the at risk youth participants in this study most came from broken homes, troubles in school, and lack of social acceptance to better understand the dynamic of why the youthful participants of this study were so apt to commit crimes, associate with gangs or become gang members themselves extensive reviews were done of the questionnaires of the selected population chosen for this study since the participating participants refused to do face to face interviews, and it was determined overall that most chose these options in life because they had n other choice and based on statistics associated with youth violence, crime and gang membership obtained from secondary sources tested against the sampling dynamic of this study it was determined that these exterior factors are the reason youth violence and crime is Ideally responsible for the growing numbers of gang membership in cities and states as this study was intended to prove.

Data collection tools

This study utilized a specifically designed questionnaire that was designed by the researcher and consisted of ten simple but dynamic questions related to involvement in youth violence, committed crimes or participation in crimes, association or affiliation with gangs and actual gang membership or former gang membership. The questionnaire was a good and effective way to collect data from the total population that participated because based on the answers from total population it made easier to measure the independent and dependent variables crucial to the importance of this study and help calculate the differences in answers to help measure which participants had the highest risk factors for being at risk for crime, gang affiliation and gang membership. This made it possible to choose the sample population that would be used to conduct this study.

Ethical Issues

Conducting a survey with at risk youth was a challenge on all levels, it had to be made clear by the researcher of this study to the participants that their participation was strictly voluntary so they would not feel they were being force to betray any loyalties their possible gang or affiliation with a gang. It was also important for the researcher to make it clear to the participants that none of their answers or information would be shared especially with law enforcement to ensure trust and maintain a level of participation needed for data collection of the study. It was also important for the researcher to point out to the participants that they did not have to answer any question that made them feel seriously uncomfortable in order to maintain a warm and inviting environment for the participant’s voluntary participation.

An initial consent form was distributed by acquaintances of the researcher who aided the researcher in distributing the questionnaire used in this study that outlined the potential intent of this study, and pointed out it was voluntary with no compensation just a routine study being conducted to better understand the topic under study, affording the participants to back out at anytime they choose (Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects, 2006). And the importance of the study was expressed to the participants how their participation and insight in the study could help other at risk youth from facing the same hardships and adversities they faced or were still facing allowing a sense of accomplishment to be felt by the participants that would aide in their willingness to participate.

Research Consideration

The initial concern for reliability and validity of this study is that the factors and elements of the study will support its initial intent, which was to explain the effects and impact youth violence has on the growing numbers of gang membership in cities and states. And another initial concern of in this area of the study is that the exterior factors will not confound or confuse the initial intent of the study. The core components of the dynamics and risk factors of youth violence crime and how the impact the growing numbers of gang membership was addressed and examined through insightful answers of specified questionnaire and measured and compared through the initial answers of all participants and measured to sample a population for testing using the answers from that questionnaire that came from that population selected for this study produced the strengths and weakness viable to be proven by the implementation of this study.

The ethical issues of this study would be the dynamic and concern of the overall justification of the study through the proven methods that were used to collect data important the reliability of this study and the question of was the most fair and inviting environment used to conform to the nature of the chosen participants of this study and their rights and insight obtained and used as data respectfully collected in given justice in initial representation of this proposed study.

Conclusion

The growth and expansion of youth violence and crime can play dynamic role in the increased numbers of gang membership in cities and states. By providing positive interaction both at home and in communities and giving hope and alternatives to violence and corruption that youth violence ensues upon most youth families and communities of at risk youth can deter crimes committed by youth by keeping them involved in various other activities that allow them no time to consider element of delinquency that are normally associated with youth violence and crime.

In a unified effort to counter deter this horrible epidemic that plague so many youth in society today it important for parents to be involved and know what is going on in their child’s lives as much is possible it is important for teachers and educators to pay close attention to the interest of their students and provide a safe learning environment as well as the parents at home to provides safe and inviting environments so the frustrations of youth does not become so overwhelming that they turn to the alternatives of violence, crime, gang affiliation or potential gang membership that can contribute the serious problems of corruption and violence that is growing and spreading in cities and states across the board in the United States. It is important to remember without positive reinforcement and interaction provided by parents and surrounding communities at risk youth simply fall into crime, violence and gangs that reduce the number of youth who will grow up to lead healthy and productive lives in society.

References
Esbensen, F.-A. (2000). Preventing Adolescent Gang Involvement. Juvenile Justice Bulletin, 1-8. Howell, J. C. (2007). Realities of Youth Gangs. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 39-45. Howell, P. A. (2004). Strategic Risk-Based Response to Youth Gangs. Juvenile Justice – Causes and
Correlates: Findings and Implications, 1-4. (2006). Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects. Austin: University of Texas- Pan American. Malcolm W. Klein, C. L. (2006). Street Gang Patterns and Policies. New York: Oxford University Press. Maxfield, M. B. (2009). Basics of research methods in criminal justice and criminology 2nd edition. Belmont: Wadsworth. Stephen Johnson and David Muhlhausen, P. (2005). North American transitional youth gangs: Breaking the Chain of Violence. Washington: The Heritage Foundation.


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