My discussion of violence increasing in youth’s society is in fact addressing the larger matter of futuristic decisions to solve the problems in America.
Being in a gang can be dangerous. Former members can tell many stories about the difficulties one encounters in gang life. Besides living a life with the potential for more violence and crime than the average youth would experience, many other consequences exist. Even though such consequences might vary considerably among individuals, Dana Peterson, Terrance J. Taylor, and Finn-Aage Esbensen, in Gang Membership and Violent Victimization (, vol. 21, no. 4, December 2004), and Thornberry, Huizinga, and Leober address some of the most commonly encountered consequences:
Other researchers who survey gang members themselves find higher proportions of female members. For example, Finn-Aage Esbensen and L. Thomas Winfree report in "Race and Gender Differences between Gang and Nongang Youths: Results from a Multisite Survey" (, September 1998) that 38% of self-identified middle-school gang members were female. Egley, Howell, and Major state that other studies find that 10% to 20% of all female survey participants in gang-problem areas are gang members. Some differences have been found to exist, however, between female and male gang members. Females involved in gangs are believed to join and leave gangs at an earlier age and at a faster rate than males. Female gang members are also believed to be not as involved in serious or violent crimes as are male gang members. As a result, this lower rate of serious criminal behavior may not bring female gang members to the attention of law enforcement officials.
American media is giving youth subliminal messages and causing them to perform violent actions and forcing them to take drastic measures to stay with society’s idea of perfection....
Most criminal activities of the street gangs of the early twentieth century involved delinquent acts or petty crimes, such as brawls with rival gangs. As the twentieth century progressed, however, gangs became involved in more serious crimes. Toward the end of the century law enforcement officials came to regard gang members in general as serious criminals who used intimidation tactics, engaged in the illegal trafficking of drugs and weapons, and employed violence to pursue their goals. Respondents in the National Youth Gang Survey (NYGS) emphasized that a gang was defined by involvement in group criminal activity along with some degree of definition of a group as a separate entity, such as having a name, displaying distinct colors or symbols, or engaging in activities to protect the group's territory. Law enforcement officers noted that in the 1980s and 1990s more and more gang members began to support themselves through dealing drugs, such as crack cocaine and heroin. Many were said to have easy access to high-powered weapons. In addition, the proliferation of gangs in the late twentieth century meant that groups moved beyond city boundaries into suburban and rural areas as well. This movement into new territories occurred about the same time that youth violence surged in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Most criminal activities of the street gangs of the early twentieth century involved delinquent acts or petty crimes, such as brawls with rival gangs. As the twentieth century progressed, however, gangs began getting involved with more serious crimes. By the late twentieth century, law enforcement officials had come to regard gang members in general as serious criminals who engaged in the illegal trafficking of drugs or weapons and used intimidation tactics and violence to pursue their goals. Respondents to the National Youth Gang Survey (NYGS) emphasized that a gang was defined by involvement in group criminal activity along with some degree of definition of a group as a separate entity, such as having a name, displaying distinct colors or symbols, or engaging in activities to protect the group's territory. Law enforcement officers note that in the 1980s and 1990s more and more gang members began to support themselves through dealing drugs, such as crack cocaine and heroin. Many were said to have easy access to high-powered weapons. In addition, the proliferation of gangs in the late twentieth century meant that groups moved beyond city boundaries into suburban and rural areas as well. This movement into new territories occurred about the same time that youth violence surged in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Recent evaluation research has revealed that police can prevent gun violence. While this guide categorizes police responses by whether they are primarily focused on offenders or on hot spots, in practice, they overlap. For example, when police focus on offenders in gangs, they sometimes also focus on gang turf and drug market areas. When police are deployed to prevent gun violence in particular places, they often focus on controlling the behavior of particularly dangerous offenders there. The distinction between the focuses matters less than the fact that police can prevent youth gun crime by strategically addressing identifiable risks.
Researchers noted various reasons for the growth of gangs during the end of the twentieth century. According to Finn-Aage Esbensen of the University of , in (September 2000, ), American society witnessed a reemergence of youth gang activity and media interest in this phenomenon in the 1980's and 1990's. Colors, Boyz n the Hood, other productions, and MTV brought , , gang life to suburban and rural America. These media portrayals might have further enticed youth to become involved in gangs.
Statistics about gang membership show that the increased concern about gangs had its basis in the growth of gangs during the 1990s. According to Walter B. Miller of the OJJDP, in (April 2001, ), during the 1970s about 1% of U.S. cities and about 40% of the states reported having problems with youth gangs. By the late 1990s the percentage of U.S. cities with gang problems grew to 7%, and youth gangs were
Gangs of aggressive and violent young offenders, terrorize neighborhoods in more than three-quarters of American large cities (Snyder & Sickmund, 2006). These collectivities attract only a third of high-risk youth, but their members account to about 80% of the serious delinquencies among minors (ibid.). Thus, although juvenile violence and crime can be linked to inferior socioeconomic conditions and racial issues, it is clear that gangs nurture young offenders towards lives of crime. The aim of this short report is threefold:
Some key elements of the “pulling levers” approach to prevent gun violence are also part of Richmond, Va.’s well-known Project Exile to deter convicted felons from illegally carrying guns. This program is essentially a firearms sentence-enhancement initiative, as offenders are diverted from state to federal courts. At the heart of the project, all Richmond felon-in-possession cases are prosecuted in federal courts, with the defendants’ facing an average five-year prison sentence if convicted. The project also includes training for local police on federal statutes and search-and-seizure procedures, a public relations campaign to increase community involvement in fighting gun crime, and a massive publicity campaign to warn potential offenders about zero tolerance for gun crime and about the swift and certain federal sentence. Project advocates claim success based on a 40 percent decrease in Richmond gun homicides between 1997 and 1998. This claim has been disputed, however, as a recent evaluation found that the decrease would have likely occurred regardless of the project; the study suggests that nearly all of the decrease was probably attributable to an unusually high increase in and level of gun homicide before the project began. Nevertheless, it is important to note here that, as demonstrated in Boston, federal prosecution of gang-involved chronic offenders central to gun violence problems is an important component of an integrated violence reduction strategy.
The huge growth in gangs and gang membership slowed in the late 1990s. Comparing statistics between the 1996 and 2000 surveys, Arlen Egley Jr. of the NYGC finds in the fact sheet National Youth Gang Survey Trends from 1996 to 2000 (February 2002, ) that the proportion of respondents that reported youth gangs in their jurisdiction decreased over the survey years, from 53 percent in 1996 to 40 percent in 2000. In 2006, 33.3% of jurisdictions reported gang problems. (See .) In (July 2006, ), Arlen Egley Jr., James C. Howell, and Aline K. Major of the NYGC estimate that there were approximately 21,500 gangs present in the United States in 2002. These numbers increased again by 2006. In that year, Egley and O'Donnell indicate that approximately 26,500 gangs with 785,000 gang members were active in the United States.