From the time of the mid-20th century, gang violence in the United States has become pervasive. All fifty states and also the District of Columbia informed and wrote reports on gang problems. These reports have only been increased for the last five to seven years. Notwithstanding, the stable evolution in the number and the magnitude of a gang’s criminal behavior and gang violence across the country is concerning. However, very little is still known regarding the underlying forces that drive these gangs and the way they behave. In addition to this, it is more crucial to understand on how they best tackled their growth or if they ever.
For example, no accord or conclusion was agreed on how these gang’s form. However, to lessen the effects of such violence, may programmes have been enforced and also have been meticulously assessed. “The recent Juvenile Justice bulletin (PDF, 24 Pages), published by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs (OJJDP), presents a compilation of current research on gangs, including data on the state of gang problems in the United States today, why youth join gangs, the risk factors and attractions that increase youth’s propensity to join gangs, and how gangs form. The author examines how community members can begin to assess their gang problems and provide necessary enhancements to prevention and intervention activities. The bulletin also describes a number of effective and promising programs that may help prevent youth delinquency and gang violence.” “The following are some key findings:
- Youth join gangs for protection, enjoyment, respect, money, or because a friend is in a gang.
- Youth are at higher risk of joining a gang if they engage in delinquent behaviors, are aggressive or violent, experience multiple caretaker transitions, have many problems at school, associate with other gang-involved youth, or live in communities where they feel unsafe and where many youth are in trouble.
- To prevent youth from joining gangs, communities must strengthen families and schools, improve community supervision, train teachers and parents to manage disruptive youth, and teach students interpersonal skills.”
Statistics: “Local youth gang problems in the United States increased during the 25-year period leading up to the mid-1990s (W.B. Miller, 2001). Whereas in the 1970s, only 19 states reported youth gang problems, before the turn of the 21st century, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had acknowledged gang activity. Gang problems reported by law enforcement in the National Youth Gang Survey (NYGS)1 peaked in the mid-1990s, followed by a precipitous decline (Egley, Howell, and Major, 2004). An overall 15-percent increase in youth gang problems reported in the NYGS from 2002 to 2008 followed this decline, and all segments of the U.S. population reported increases in gang problems: suburban counties (22 percent), rural counties (16 percent), smaller cities (15 percent), and larger cities (13 percent) (Egley, Howell, and Moore, 2010). Only time will show whether the recent increase in gang activity is a lasting trend.”
Defining a gang? “There is no single, generally accepted definition of a “gang.” State and local jurisdictions tend to develop their own definitions. The term “street gang” is often used interchangeably with “youth gang” as well as “criminal street gang,” with the latter explicitly denoting the element of criminal activity found almost universally in gang-related legislation. However, the term “street gang” carries two specific meanings that increase its practical value. First, it suggests a common feature of gangs: They commonly have a street presence. Street socialization is a key feature of adolescent gangs. Second, this term also refers to “street crimes,” that is, serious and violent crimes (e.g., assaults, drive-by shootings, robberies, homicides) that occur on the streets and that often are of concern to citizens and policymakers. The ongoing commission of these offenses consequently instills fear among residents, undermining informal social control mechanisms within the community.”
“Contemporary gangs are also variously known as youth or delinquent gangs and street or criminal gangs—have become a widespread threat to communities throughout the Nation. Once considered largely an urban phenomenon, gangs have increasingly emerged in smaller communities, presenting a challenge that severely strains local resources. All gang problems are local in nature. Whether rooted in neighborhoods, representing a rite of passage, or providing surrogate families or access to economic opportunity, most gangs are inherently local. Even large-scale gangs with reputed nationwide networks attract local youth and take advantage of local opportunities to carry out gang activities.”