Lastly, it was found that peers also influence the decision to join gangs especially if one is already a member. This study also reports that the best friends exists in the same gang, the higher the likelihood of committing violence (Esbensen, 2001). The presented literature review had indicated that gang membership has been the focus of studies and researches even in the early days of American society. As such, gangs and gang membership has to be studied in a more diversified perspective not just using a single lens.
The factors that lead youth to join gangs are varied and come from different social and personal sources, such that it is important to be able to clearly identify what reasons youths have for joining gangs. This chapter presents the data collection methods and the research design of the present study. The goal of the study is to be able to determine what factors lead the youth to join gangs. The objective is to be able to identify the different factors that influence gang membership, thus it is appropriate that this study employs the descriptive exploratory design.
The dependent variable in the study is gang membership, while the independent variable is the factors that lead the youth to join gangs. Based on the review of literature, it is observed that certain factors had been repeatedly found to be related to gang membership and these are incorporated in the present study. However, since most of the studies had been conducted a decade ago, it is expected that some variation may exist thus the exploratory nature of the study.
The descriptive part of the design is due to the goal of being able to determine and identify the factors that lead to gang membership.
Setting The study will be conducted in three neighborhoods in a relatively large urban city wherein there is a diverse population of ethnic groups. The neighborhoods are chosen for convenience as it is near the researcher’s area of residence and have established connections in the local area. The neighborhoods had been known to harbor a number of youth gangs. The data will be collected during weekends and at night when gang members are in the open and can complete a questionnaire. The participants of the study will be gang members and those who are not members of any gang or organization.
The participants will be asked to volunteer to complete the survey questionnaire of the researcher and to give their written consent by signing a consent form. The sampling method will be purposeful since the study involves a target population and that is gang members. The participants will however be from 12 to 16 years old only as this age constitutes adolescence in its truest form. Children below 12 years old may not have the inclinations to join gangs while those above 16 years old seem too old and mature. Demographic data will be asked in the questionnaire but will not be controlled.
For the participants who are not gang members, they will be identified through a referral system and will have to complete the same questionnaire. There will be 10 participants in each neighborhood, five of which are gang members and the other five are non-gang members. The researcher will develop a questionnaire designed specifically for this study in which demographic data, personal characteristics, interests are measured in the first part. In the second part, the participants are asked to check the possible factors that influenced them to join gangs.
In the third part, the participants are asked to elaborate on the factors they identified and in narrative form which will later be used in the analysis of the data. No other instrument will be used in the study. 26 Procedures The researcher will first conduct an ocular inspection of the targeted neighborhoods in which data collection will be conducted. At this time, the researcher will be able to determine at what time, place gang members converge, and whether they routinely engage in criminal activities and illegal dealings.
The researcher will ask the assistance of a local who is also a gang member and the researcher will meet with the gang leader to inform them of the study that the researcher is doing. When the cooperation of the gang leader has been established, the researcher then prepares the questionnaires to be used in data gathering. The questionnaire will contain a cover letter and consent form, no incentives will be given to the participants of the study, and the participant has to first sign the consent form before proceeding with the questionnaire.
The researcher will then distribute the questionnaires to the participants and instruct them on how to answer the questionnaire and to ask clarifications if they find some items difficult. The researcher will distribute the questionnaire on different days in the three neighborhoods. The researcher will also make informal inquiries to some of the participants as a means of collaborating data that will be gathered by the researcher. After all the questionnaires had been completed, the researcher will then collate the data and tabulate in a manner in which the common patterns and responses are highlighted and then discussed further in the study.
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