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Prevention, treatment and punishment of youth gangs

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  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of a gang
  3. History of youth gangs
  4. Gang structure and behavior
  5. Theories pertaining to gang membership
  6. Risk factors of gang membership
  7. Gang membership and delinquency
  8. Prevention of gang membership
  9. Intervention and treatment of youth gangs
  10. Suppression and punishment of youth gangs
  11. Conclusion and recommendations

The prevalence of youth gangs is steadily increasing in the United States, with increased gang involvement and violence creating serious implications for both the adolescent population and communities as a whole. An article entitled ?Childhood Risk Factors for Adolescent Gang Membership,? stated that ?gang members are more likely than nonmembers to commit violent offenses and property crime and to use drugs? (Hill, Howell, Hawkins, & Battin-Pearson, 1999, p. 301). The authors state that gang members are twice as likely to carry a gun, and more than three times as likely to engage in the sale of drugs. This aggressive behavior and involvement in drug use are not only detrimental to the individual involved in the gang, but also to his or her surrounding neighborhood and community. Due to this fact, it has become increasingly important to understand youth gangs: why young people choose to join gangs, how membership can be prevented, and what treatment and punishment options should be pursued for those already involved.

[...] A youth with high self-control would have the ability to defer gratification, be persistent in a course of action, be cautious, cognitive, and verbal, engage in long-term pursuits, value cognitive and academic skills, and have sensitivity to the feelings of others (Dukes et al., p. 141). Therefore, a youth with high internal self-control would be less likely to engage in delinquent activity, such as joining a gang. Labeling Theory consists of the idea that creating a label for an individual, whether negative or positive, can result in the creation of a self-fulfilling prophecy that ultimately affects their behavior. [...]

[...] This would include facilitating a sense of collective efficacy as well as establishing community cooperation techniques, like meetings to discuss problems related to gangs and offer recommendations for change. Neighborhood Watch programs have also been established with the goal of decreasing instances of youth delinquency while simultaneously diminishing reliance on the criminal justice system. Meacham and Stokes (2008) note that ?Prevention means long-term and difficult work in establishing trust in the community, reassuring people that the programs will have a positive impact, and developing the human and fiscal resources needed to establish and maintain the programs? (p. [...]

[...] The presence of gangs has also become more apparent during these later eras as changes in technology have allowed for increased accessibility of guns, and the use of the automobile has allowed for the occurrence of ?drive-by shootings.? The composition of youth gangs has changed dramatically since their original emergence in the United States. According to the 2008 National Youth Gang Survey Analysis, almost forty percent of gang members in the United States are under the age of eighteen. The survey notes a correlation between age of a gang member and the area where they live, stating that ?smaller cities and rural counties, whose gang problems are relatively recent, are more likely to report juvenile gang members? (p.1). [...]

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