Gang Prevention

“Gang prevention programs have been rare. They require accurate knowledge of the predictors of gang membership, that is, identifying likely gang members, and they require knowledge of the causes of gangs and gang membership. Finally, they require knowledge of the likely impact of prevention efforts (Klein, 1995:137)”. Thesis What happen to the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”.

It seems to have vanished while people have seemed to ignore Gang problems.Prevention and intervention has been ignored by society due to the fact it was considered a poor and minority problem. On the other hand Faith based community programs are the main root of deterring children from gang involvement. These faith based programs are designed to help at risk children whom lack the nurture and guidance in some form, allowing them a chance to get away from their gang invested communities. The faith based approach is to give stability and support to youths, which is a requirement into becoming productive citizens.Introduction In a recent study conducted by the National Gang Crime Research center( NGCRC) revealed: “(1) about two-thirds of all American cities, large or small have a gang problem; (2) about one-fourth of all inmates in adult correctional facilities are gang members; (3) about half of all persons confined in juvenile correctional facilities are gang members; (4) that the current estimated of the total U.

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S. gang member population is about 1. 5 million; and (5) the gang problem shows no sign of abatement ( www. ngcrc. org)”.Gang problems in America have always existed and after decades of existence it does not seem to going anywhere. While the gang problem for sure is not declining, our streets are plagued by drugs and violence caused by gangs.

The goal is to provide an effective way of preventing gang involvement. Gangs are infested every state in America. They constantly ruin lives through violence, murder, drugs, theft, and destruction of property. While ultimately lowering the standard of living for many citizens trapped by ruthless gang activities. Yablonsky’s classification of gangs included three types: (1) delinquent gangs, (2) iolent gangs and (3) social gangs (1962: p. 149) “Although jurisdictions may have varying definitions, for general purposes a youth gang is viewed as a group of three or more persons who (1) self identify themselves as an entity separate from the community by special clothing, vocabulary, hand signals, and names and (2) engage in criminal activity. Although the first gangs may have appeared in the 1780s, around the time of American Revolution, there have been four periods of major gang activity in American history: the late 1800s, the 1920s, the 1960s, and the present.

According to an exhaustive survey of law enforcement agencies, there are probably around 20,000 gangs with approximately 1 million members in the United States (Gaines, Miller: 2009 p. 570). ” To stop gang violence, citizens need information, support and community activism.

These tackle viable options in combating the problem locally. This paper will show the need to change the negative form of thinking; to society taking a stand to gang involvement and violence. We will look at a variety of research with solutions on curving the violence among our youth.Many researchers believe incarceration and mandatory jail is the key to the problem, there are various options than the penal system. Others will argue that social problems can be solved with more involvement of adults. Role models and community groups can take a more positive role. Faith based community programs provide much the same services as church based ministries.

But with help from the government the programs will have more money and larger budgets, which allow for more staff; nonprofits organizations generally provide these services with more intensity.It has been found that faith-based community program has the time and staff to visit with parents and teachers to monitor each child’s progress (www. jerimahproject. org). The early work of Thrasher (1927) emphasized the importance of structural and community factors.

They believed that delinquency in general and youth gangs in particular were products of the social environment and that these societal factors may also contribute to juveniles’ joining gangs. Gang serves as a term to identify the problems of a special population of teens.The major principles of getting rid of America’s gang problem are the church, the community, and local politicians.

There should be more community inclined neighborhoods; meaning neighbors should not be competing more with their neighbor but helping their neighbor. There are more parents nowadays talking about at risk children than trying to have an impact in their lives. It is known an “estimated 4,881 violent youth gangs with nearly 250,000 members were responsible for 46,359 crimes in 1991” (National Crime Prevention Council).That number has since tripled. Communities in which gang activity is most prevalent mainly have high concentrations of poverty and joblessness and poor organization of prevention services among local government agencies and community organizations. This strategy addresses those conditions through a comprehensive approach that links the community and government in providing positive opportunities and demonstrating clear consequences for youth at risk for gang involvement.The Jeremiah project states “the only programs that seemed able to maintain a relationship with a substantial number of at risk teens were a handful of extremely grassroots gang-intervention programs” (www.

jerimahproject. org). “In comparing economically depressed inner city neighborhood life with a more prosperous neighborhood, what is of importance regarding the propensity for law violations are the sources of norms and values, “ conceptions of right and wrong” ( Shaw and Mc Kay, 1931:p 111).Also in the urban poor enclave a youth has restricted access to the established social order in the sense that may be limited to “formal contacts with the police, courts, the school, and various social agencies (p. 111).

This paper will give an overview of at risk children need for faith based community programs. Utilizing the Spergel’s method along with faith based community programs America will deter the gang involvement. (1) Mobilizing community leaders and residents to plan, strengthen, or create new opportunities or linkages to existing organizations for gang-involved or at-risk youth; (2) using outreach workers to engage gang-involved youth; (3) providing or facilitating access to academic, economic, and social opportunities; (4) conducting gang suppression activities and holding gang-involved youth accountable; and (5) facilitating organizational change and development to help community agencies better address gang problems through a team ‘problem-solving’ approach that is consistent with the philosophy of community oriented policing. Burch and Kane, 1999)”. I will discuss how community and faith based community programs prevent children whom lack structured homes; lack positive social environment, and lack of self-esteem from gang involvement. Structured Homes Today the family structure of homes has changed.

There are less two parent homes now than ever before. While there are more single parent households and less father in their children lives which of course causes many children to join the life of a gang. According to “The Nurturing Father”, by Kyle Pruitt, M.D.

The book dealt with the involvement of a father in the lives of his children, the effects of an active father, and the impact of a child with an active father. The research concluded that active fathers produce more socially successful children. His research showed that children were more equipped to handle peer pressure, more competent, self assure, ambitious, and more determined. In other words, our children really miss out when the father is not involved, also in some cases when mothers are not around.In America these are facts of life since there are more children growing up this way the faith based program can help with creating a mentoring program, that enables concerned citizens to volunteer to be a somewhat surrogate parent to a child whom is lacking parental involvement.

Some children do not have positive persons in their lives and having a mentoring program will help them make better choices. According to Shaw and Mc Kay it is more than material difference, it is a difference between being “ excluded” or “ included” from channels of normative learning (1931: p. 11)”. A young male learns his masculine identity through his father/father figure, directly and indirectly. Fathers/father figure also help their daughters learn to love, and coexist with males. A girl’s femininity is developed with a loving father/father figure.

This research also showed that girls without an active father/father figure suffered from: promiscuity, low self-esteem, and they seek attention from older male men. A former gang member Sanyka Shakur states in an interview “My homeboys became my family- the older ones were my father figures.Each time I shot someone, each time I put another gun on set, each time I successfully recruited a combat soldier, I was congratulated by my older homeboys”. David Blankehorn stated in his book Fatherless America that, “Every night about 40% of America’s children will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live. ” Our society is directly affected by the decline of fathers or father figures in the home. His research also shows that a positive replacement father is just as effective.Welfare and social programs penalize single mothers for having fathers in the home with is a direct cause of the problem.

Poor single mothers purposely keep men out of the home to secure their support from Federal and State agencies. Blankehorn shows in his book that more than half of American children will spend most of their lives in homes without a father or a positive father figure. In addition, children with positive structured families or mentorship show a better development into society and maturity. When the family provides for all the basic human needs of American youths, then we can safely say that the influences on the youthful behavior from other sources such as the community will be negligible. But when the family does not provide for all the needs of its children as WrobleskiA and Hess (1987 p. 75)” point out, this weight of responsibility will have to be carried elsewhere to produce good citizenship, and if this burden of citizenship training is not taken up, then what we can look forward to is a greater probability of gang problems (Knox 2006: p.

353).Social Environment While the lack of structural homes gives children reasons to join gangs, the social problems play a major role. The social problems of the children are also factors, where a child grows up has a major impact on their lives . Klein states, “Street gangs are an amalgam of racism, of urban underclass poverty, of minority and youth culture, of fatalism in the face of rampant deprivation, of political insensitivity, and the gross ignorance of inner-city (and inner-town) America on the part of most of us who don’t have to survive there. ” (1995:p. 34) Children that live in poverty areas and gang infested areas need safe havens. The Jeremiah Project believes one obstacle, which confronted nearly every outreach organization, was the difficulty of reaching the teenagers, particularly males who were already involved in at risk activity (www.

jerimahproject. org). For this reason the main focus is to start gang prevention at a very young age with getting children involved with faith based community programs.

Most gang members are products of their environment there are liquor stores, and churches on each corner but no community centers.The church should be a place where a child can go to get away from the faucets of their trouble area. “Though gangs tend to have racial or ethnic characteristics-that is, one group predominates in each gang- many researchers do not believe that race or ethnicity is the dominant factor in gang membership. Instead, gang members seem to come from lower class or working-class communities, mostly in urban areas but with an increasing number from the suburbs and rural counties (Gaines, Miller 2009: p.

570). Community groups and associations addressing the gang problem means addressing a host of related problems and is ultimately a question of democracy itself a question of getting involved, a question of community empowerment (Introduction to gangs 2006 6th edition). These faith-based programs will provide them with the opportunity to get away from the negativity surrounding them in the neighborhood, while also giving them the tools they need to deter gang involvement. This will allow the children in at risk areas to do something productive with themselves instead of going in the direction of gangs.These faith-based programs will also be open on the weekend and during all breaks of the school system, also allowing them to worship on Sunday. A corporation-based approach to gang prevention should be explored and its approach should emphasize jobs and job-training opportunities for youth, especially ex-gang members (Corporation-Based Gang Prevention Approach: Possible? Preliminary Report of a Corporate Survey). “Very often the child’s access to the traditions and standards of our conventional culture and restricted to his formal contacts with the police, the school, and the various social agencies.On the other hand his most vital and intimate social contacts are often limited to the spontaneous and undirected neighborhood playgroups and gangs whose activities and standards of conduct may vary widely from those of his parents and larger social order” ( p.

111 Shaw and Mc Kay, 1931). A 2008 survey of gangs in Chicago Public Schools states “little or no persons in the gang have people at home to push them and help them succeed. A program like this would indeed be helpful to children with little or no guidance at home, which in fact give children reason to join gangs by feeling unloved and unwanted.Teachers cannot properly teach overcrowded classes of youth with a variety of social problems. Social workers are fighting a losing battle by saving children that are mandated to go back into the environments that caused the problems for the child. State and local agencies cannot keep a child out of the home without going through red tape and document proof that the child is in an unproductive environment. There is a great absence of parents working together to insure the best interest of the children.

Millions of women divorce their husbands due to infidelity, and the child suffers.The result is gang violence and social problems. Influence that does not come from the parents will be provided by negative outlets such as gangs, video games, movies, and peer pressure. Research clearly shows that the absence of positive role models and fatherless homes are related to adolescent violence. Violence comes from the lack of discipline, and the re-enforcement of rules and regulations. Self-Esteem Self-Esteem seems to be a major factor on why faith-based programs work on preventing gang involvement.These programs create safe havens away from the empty world ones feels before joining a gang. Counseling has been proven to work, at faith based community programs.

It has been one of the first processes in the intake process of any organization. This is to ensure a proper program designed for a child with self-esteem issues. While some will argue that most gang member has little to no self-esteem. Although girls and guys alike join gangs, there are “a very small percentage of female gang members (Gaines, Miller 2009: p.

570)”. And self esteem affects females and males differently.It is known that “common attribution to gang member is that they have low self-esteem or that self-esteem is a factor that may impact on gang behavior. Prior to Adulthood, it is the family that is most responsible in terms of socialization to instill self-esteem. But among those collecting a list of “gang myths”, another might be asserting that it is a myth that the self-esteem of gang members differs from that of their non-gang counterparts. If self-esteem is only important after the criminal justice process sets in, then self-esteem like other factors (e. . , family) may have sufficient variability and conditions and contexts under which it sets in, particularly in relationship to recognizing differences in the level of social organizational functioning in modern gangs, that the lower self-esteem may have no impact in some areas but much impact in others (Knox, McClendon, and Garcia, 1983)”.

America needs more parents and role models while today the modern day parent consists of the power of advertisement and the television. Music videos are more popular than most parents are willing to believe.Children are influenced by the sexual messages and the desire to live above their financial means. This leads to teenage pregnancy, and youth selling drugs to live the fantasy lifestyle, ultimately gang life. With the abundance of their self-esteem coming from Albert Bandura published research that stating that “children model the influences in their lives”. If a child does not have a structured family, or organized community programs the child will seek out influences good or bad.

In most cases, children find negative family structures in gangs and deviant peer groups.Bandura believed that “punishment and reward are the developmental tools that will strongly influence a child’s life. If a child grows up in an environment without in rules or regulations, the society as a whole will suffer”.

His theory was called social learning theory. This theory states that models directly affect social behavior, aggression, and even violence. Some youth who join gangs suffer from a negative self image. Opportunities to feel good about themselves in their family or at school were few and far between.Yablonsky tells us “The gangsters’ personality problems of low self-esteem and sense of alienation drive them to act super tough to compensate for their sense of inferiority (Yablonsky 1997:18). Without guidance, a child will believe that negative aggressive behavior will produce rewards. A positive parent teaches a child that hard work and perseverance can produce rewards. A child without this guidance will rob others to produce rewards.

These negative rewards cause injury and even death to innocent people in our society.In order to prevent this violence from occurring, we must have a clear and concise understanding of the scope of the problem (case. edu, 2006) Politicians tried to dismantle the juvenile justice system to make it tougher on teens. Many states started prosecuting teens as adults as a solution to stop the violence. Social workers and educators argued that the problems stemmed from: the family structure, values, morals, substance abuse, and the absence of the fathers in the home.

One thing they seem to agree on are faith base community programs working to prevent gang involvement and violence.Conclusion In conclusion, I have discussed how faith-based community program prevent children whom lack from joining gangs. Communities, churches and politicians all must work together to deter gang involvement. The gang problems are universal. The U.

S. and western countries see a greater trend due to the cultural approach to the problem. In Asian and African countries youth problems becomes a concern of the culture. In the U. S. gang problems are often overlooked, and are blamed on the individual families.

Until the U.S. recognizes gang violence as a problem in our society, the problems will increase and get worst. The society suffers from the result of broken homes, fatherless families, and youth with social deviant problems. Our prison system and the failing school system are clear signs that gang violence is a problem that the entire society must confront.

It is necessary for the schools in the 000United States to take more action in order to keep the students safe during the day, but it is also up to the community and the churches.It is obvious that schools are not safe while trying to force everyone to take part in stopping the violent behavior which takes place in schools on a daily basis the root of the problem must be addressed and that is the community. More young people are turning to gangs to solve problems in their lives. When youths join gangs they drop social activities with family, friends and school.

Members fall behind their classmates in school and do not focus on their education, being more focused on gang activity.In 1958 Fritz Heider published some research on teen violence served as a guide to organizers today. Heider suggested family preservation services, alternative schools, community prevention and intervention programs, teen learning centers, residential care programs, boot camps and institutional programs in an effort to help our youth, not jail them.

It is known that “youth gang membership is associated with significantly higher levels of delinquency and index crimes” (Gang Suppression and intervention: Problem and response).This report also considers “the characteristics of gang structure, the social contexts in which gang emerge, emerging and chronic gang problems, and strategic responses. They have named five basic strategies that have emerged in addressing youth gangs are neighborhood mobilization, social intervention, provision for social and economic opportunities, gang suppression and incarceration, and an organizational development strategy” (Gang Suppression and intervention: Problem and response). All are the primary focus for faith based community programs.The gang problems among youth must be seen as a problem of society and not left up to single mothers to handle.

For centuries in the U. S. , gang violence was seen as a problem among minorities and the poor. The problem of gang violence is a universal problem that must be analyzed by the society as a whole. The U. S.

has ignored this problem due to class violence, and labeling the behavior of white youth as misbehaving. Youth that are generated from fragmented homes usually cause the highest number of teen violence.Youth gang violence is not just a problem among the poor minorities in the inner cities.

Many suburban and rural areas are dealing with the exact same problems. The government should make more of an effort to save the youth before prison, and before violent acts are committed. This is a psychological and behavioral challenge for the society as a whole. It is the responsibility of everyone in the society to make an effort to step in as positive role models for children that lack a structured home.In the end results to Parents need to develop a strong bond with open communication with your children to stop them from joining or hanging around with gangs. Faith based community programs should be the main focus in targeting our youth and preventing gang involvement.

These faith base community programs will bring in community leaders, religious leaders, police, counselors, clubs like the YMCA, G. R. E. A. T, and D. A. R.

E, along with business leaders and other community groups to develop programs to stop gang violence as a whole across the country.

Author: Edgar Stone


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