Answer the following questions: ONLY use both videos as sources, NO OUTSIDE SOURCES! What are some of the key reasons young join gangs? After the fact, did it appear that the gangs provided youth with what they were wanting? How does the concept of loyalty shift from their time on the street to the time of and after conviction and/or incarceration? https://nationalgangcenter.ojp.gov/video
Introduction to Pushes and Pulls
Understanding the complex dynamics behind youth gang involvement is crucial for effective prevention and intervention strategies (National Gang Center, 2014). In this exploration, insights from researchers, practitioners, and former gang members provide a comprehensive overview of the factors influencing a youth’s decision to join a gang.
Gaining a nuanced understanding of the behaviors and circumstances contributing to gang involvement is essential for designing targeted interventions. The concept of “pushes” and “pulls” highlights the negative conditions that propel youth toward gangs and the perceived opportunities that attract them (National Gang Center, 2014). Recognizing these factors is vital for developing strategies that address the root causes of gang joining.
Understanding Pushes and Pulls
Risk factors, defined as “the characteristics, variables, or hazards that, if present for a given individual, make it more likely that this individual will join a gang,” play a pivotal role in the decision-making process (National Gang Center, 2014). Analogous to risk factors for health issues, the accumulation of risk factors in multiple domains significantly increases the likelihood of gang involvement (National Gang Center, 2014).
To comprehend the multifaceted nature of gang joining, it is crucial to explore risk factors across individual, family, school, peer, and community domains (National Gang Center, 2014). Research suggests that youth experiencing risk factors in all these domains are forty times more likely to join a gang compared to those facing risks in only one domain (National Gang Center, 2014).
Individual Risk Factors
Within the individual domain, various risk factors contribute to a youth’s vulnerability to gang involvement. Problem behavior in the early years, characterized by impulsivity, aggressiveness, and reactivity, serves as a strong predictor of gang membership (National Gang Center, 2014). Understanding these early signs is essential for early intervention.
Former gang members, including Raúl, Karlo, and Dustin, provide insights into their early problem behaviors. They describe justifying or making excuses for actions such as stealing, cheating, and rule-breaking, especially when these actions benefited them (National Gang Center, 2014). These beliefs are often validated and reinforced when youth join a gang, perpetuating a cycle of negative behavior.
Negative life events, such as school suspension, serious injury, or disruption in the family structure, also contribute to individual risk factors (National Gang Center, 2014). Victimization, both at home and in the community, further diminishes a young person’s sense of safety and security, making them more vulnerable to gang joining (National Gang Center, 2014).
Family Risk Factors
Negative life events, as discussed in the individual domain, can extend into the family domain, disrupting the life course of a young person. Changes in caregivers, loss of contact with parents, or disruptions in family structure can create an environment conducive to gang involvement (National Gang Center, 2014).
Inconsistent and disengaged parenting adds another layer of risk for youth. Lack of clear rules, emotional support, and supervision contribute to conditions that make a youth more susceptible to negative behaviors, particularly when spending unsupervised time with delinquent peers (National Gang Center, 2014). The absence of consistent support and discipline can leave children feeling vulnerable and more likely to join a gang.
School Risk Factors
Risk factors in the school domain further compound a youth’s vulnerability to gang involvement. Poor school performance, low academic aspirations, and a negative school environment contribute to a decreased bond with the school (National Gang Center, 2014). Special-needs students or those labeled as slow learners are particularly vulnerable to these risk factors (National Gang Center, 2014).
Former gang members, including Iris, Karlo, and Dustin, share their experiences of detachment from school. Lack of interest, engagement, and emotional connection to school and teachers increase the risk of gang involvement (National Gang Center, 2014). School suspension or expulsion, while addressing negative behavior, can have long-term consequences on a young person’s academic performance and bond with the school.
Peer Risk Factors
During adolescence, a youth’s peer group becomes a powerful influence on their behavior and attitudes. One of the strongest risk factors for gang membership is association with friends engaged in delinquency or possessing antisocial beliefs (National Gang Center, 2014). Peer influence normalizes antisocial behaviors and attitudes, detaching youth from positive mainstream peers and activities (National Gang Center, 2014).
Dustin, Raúl, and Iris provide insights into their peer influences during their adolescent years. The association with delinquent peers is a significant factor in the decision to join a gang, as it provides a sense of belonging and acceptance within a group that shares similar attitudes and behaviors (National Gang Center, 2014).
Community Risk Factors
Community risk factors, including poverty and neighborhood disorganization, contribute to the overall risk of gang involvement. While poverty itself does not cause individuals to join gangs, high levels of poverty in the community strain institutions that provide support and protection for young people (National Gang Center, 2014). Neighborhood disorganization, characterized by poor housing, lack of quality schools, and inadequate social services, further increases the risk (National Gang Center, 2014).
Former gang members, including Iris, Marion, and Karlo, describe the challenging conditions in the neighborhoods where they grew up. Higher crime rates, conflicts between residents, and racial and economic segregation are consequences of neighborhood disorganization, fostering an environment where gang involvement becomes more likely (National Gang Center, 2014).
How Pushes and Pulls Affect the Decision to Join a Gang
In the previous sections, the discussion centered on risk factors in individual, family, school, peer, and community domains. In this section, we delve into how these pushes and pulls combine to influence the decision to join a gang (National Gang Center, 2014).
Contrary to common belief, youth are not forced into joining gangs; rather, it is the culmination of risk factors across various domains that makes them more vulnerable to such associations (National Gang Center, 2014). The narratives of former gang members reveal that youth who struggle to find safety and success in their homes, schools, neighborhoods, and peer groups may be simultaneously pushed and pulled toward gangs (National Gang Center, 2014).
Gang membership often appears attractive to these youth as it seems to provide alternatives to the deficits they experience in other areas of their lives. The gang is perceived as a source of safety, protection, fun, respect, support, love, excitement, and access to resources like money or drugs (National Gang Center, 2014). Additionally, having a close friend or family member already involved in the gang can act as a significant pull factor for some youth.
Dustin, Raúl, Karlo, and Marion share their experiences, describing the combinations of pushes and pulls that led to their decisions to join a gang. Their stories highlight the intricate interplay of negative conditions and perceived opportunities that shape the decision-making process for youth involved in gangs.
This presentation provides a comprehensive overview of the factors influencing a youth’s decision to join a gang. Gang joining is a complex decision involving multiple negative conditions that push youth into gangs and perceived positive opportunities that pull youth into gangs (National Gang Center, 2014).
Three crucial points emerge from this exploration:
Accumulation of Risk Factors: Youth experiencing an accumulation of risk factors across multiple domains are the most vulnerable to later gang involvement (National Gang Center, 2014). Recognizing these accumulated risks is essential for targeted intervention.
Voluntary Decision: Contrary to popular belief, most youth are not forced into gangs. Their decisions to join are based, in part, on their perceptions of positive opportunities offered by the gang that pull them towards it (National Gang Center, 2014). Understanding the voluntary nature of these decisions is crucial for effective intervention strategies.
Not a Permanent Decision: Joining a gang is not a permanent decision. With the right interventions and support, individuals can disengage from gangs and build better lives for themselves (National Gang Center, 2014). Recognizing the potential for change is essential for designing effective prevention and intervention programs.
Resources and Recommendations
For those seeking more information on pushes and pulls, risk factors for gang involvement, and effective gang prevention and intervention programs, the resource page of this presentation offers recommendations for further reading (National Gang Center, 2014). The narratives of the young people who participated in this presentation serve as valuable insights into the realities of gang involvement and the efforts made by former gang members to build better lives.
Community members, parents, law enforcement, and social services and education professionals can find suggested resources and a bibliography at the end of this video (National Gang Center, 2014). These resources aim to support individuals in learning about gang joining, associated risk factors, and planning effective strategies to address gang involvement within their communities.
In conclusion, unraveling the layers of youth gang involvement through this comprehensive exploration provides valuable insights and resources for a deeper understanding of the complex factors influencing these decisions. It also offers a foundation for developing targeted interventions that address the root causes of gang joining and support individuals in disengaging from gangs.
National Gang Center. (2014). Narration Text for Why Youth Join Gangs Video. Retrieved from https://nationalgangcenter.ojp.gov/video
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the key risk factors contributing to youth gang involvement?
A: The key risk factors encompass individual behaviors, family disruptions, school-related challenges, negative peer influences, and community factors such as poverty and neighborhood disorganization.
Q: Is gang membership a result of forced involvement, or are there voluntary decisions involved?
A: Contrary to common belief, youth are not forced into gangs. Their decisions are influenced by a combination of negative conditions pushing them and perceived positive opportunities pulling them towards gangs.
Q: How does the concept of loyalty shift for individuals involved in gangs, especially during and after conviction or incarceration?
A: The concept of loyalty undergoes a transformation, evolving from a sense of belonging and protection on the streets to a more complex dynamic during incarceration, often influenced by shifting alliances and survival strategies.
Q: Can joining a gang be considered a permanent decision?
A: Joining a gang is not a permanent decision. With the right interventions and support, individuals can disengage from gangs and build better lives for themselves.
Q: What role do peers play in a youth’s decision to join a gang during adolescence?
A: Peers exert a strong influence during adolescence, with association with delinquent friends being a significant risk factor for gang membership. This influence normalizes antisocial behaviors and attitudes, increasing the likelihood of gang involvement.