July 18, 2008

Research Proposal on Gang Violence Leads to Juvenile Delinquency



            One of the most relevant social issues in every society, most especially in the United States society is the issue on gang violence and juvenile delinquency. It has been reported that although progress has been made in past decades, the plight of youths in the contemporary American society is still one of the country's most ominous dilemmas, conspicuously different from the decadence that their predecessors faced a century ago. In today's society, American youths experience violence, both as victims and doers, at alarming rates (Onwudiwe 2004). One would be curious to ask the benefits or advantages of being a member of a gang, which inflict damages to themselves, their families, their peers, and the society. In this sense, this essay aims to express the statement that juveniles adhere to gang violence in order to gain recognition.

            Many authorities wonder what attracts young people to these criminal organizations. Conditions in inner cities and some suburbs may be one factor. Many gang members have surfaced from neighborhoods plagued with overcrowding and unemployment, filled with high school dropouts and dysfunctional families, and lacking recreation and productive distraction. Unfortunately, gangs may offer young people some necessities that their families cannot. The gang and its members become truly a surrogate family. Leaders are quite skilled in drawing in new members by promising money or drugs to, by intimidating, or by acknowledging vulnerable and impressionable teenagers. In the end, a gang produces loyal gang members, having not long-term aspirations, and do not consider the consequences of their gang-related behavior (Sells and Sells 2000). Several reasons may be attributed to juveniles joining gangs. However, one of the primary reasons of young people why they join gangs and commit violence is to gain recognition in the community. Some gang members are the children of gang members themselves and are following in their parents' footsteps (Edlin et al 2000). In this sense, gang members commit different forms of violence, as being influenced by the violence being committed also by their parents. A child or young individual become who they are depending on the rearing patterns of his or her parents, and the environment from he or she is exposed to. If they perceive that violence enable their parents to gain recognition from the community, then chances are, their perception of recognition and prestige from the community would also be through violent acts.

In addition, more often than not, gang recruits and gang members often have poor self-images, low self-esteem, and no adult to provide counseling and support (Edlin et al 2000). In this regard, because of low self-esteem and self-images, a new recruit would be persuaded to join gangs easily, in the perception that gangs would be able to help them find their identity in the community. In relation to this, many young individuals join gangs in order to reward one's masculinity, as means with which to solve the gender problem of accountability (Messerschmidt 1993). If a young man is able to join a gang and be able to do the activities the rest of the members do, then he would be able to be recognized as a "real man", capable of inflicting harm and becoming powerful and superior in the community. A young recruit would be driven to perform violent acts in order to prove his masculinity in the gang, and in order to prove to them that he also deserves to belong to the group. In this regard, the process of initiation, which often involves stealing, drugs, rape, killing, and other forms of violent acts, would entitle the gang member recognition if he or she is able to perform such acts, and such recognition may either be in the form of money, position in the group, or rewards. Furthermore, gang members often gain recognition from other gang members and from a society that fears them, thus, making them obtain attention and respect (Edlin et al 2000). In terms of participating in a gang encounter, one can gain honor by acting bravely, thus, establishing character for oneself and possibly robbing it from an opponent. The praise for heart and bravery from other gang members provide another high in the aftermath of a gang encounter, most especially after inflicting damage or resorting to violence (Sanders 1994). In addition, committing violence by gang members result from being threatened from being dominated by other gangs. Because of this, they commit violence in their aim to protect their territory or to protect their peers. If a particular member is able to exhibit an extraordinary strategy to protect their territory, such as through killing or damaging their enemy, then recognition would be provided. In this sense, the recognition that one gets from other members of the gang involves one's ability to become violent towards the gang's opponents. From this, it can be perceived that gang members commit violence due to their aim to become recognized in a group, in order to uplift their self-esteem and self-image personally and in the community. If this perception would not be changed by the community and their family, then juvenile and gang violence would continue to increase and be regarded as one of the most alarming issues in the society.




Edlin, G, Golanty, E and Brown, KM 2000, Essentials for Health and Wellness, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc., MA, USA.

Messerschmidt, JW 1993, Masculinities and Crime: Critique and Reconceptualization of Theory, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Maryland, USA.

Onwudiwe, ID 2004, 'Theoretical Perspectives on Juvenile Delinquency: Root Causes and Control', Corrections Today, vol. 66, issue 6, October, pp. 153+.

Sanders, WB 1994, Gangbangs and Drive-Bys: Grounded Culture and Juvenile Gang Violence, Walter de Gruyter, Inc., New York.

Sells, DH and Sells, DH Jr. 2000, Security in the Health Care Environment, Aspen Publishers, Inc., Maryland, USA.



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