Professor Krista Jefferies
Writing Effective Prose 110-47
Gangs as a Social Issue Essay
2 December 2010
Gangs: An Endemic
Gangs and gang violence are an issue that is arising in the United States and other parts of the world. Its increasing membership, which happens to be made up of younger and younger children are impacting communities in direct and indirect ways, which is one reason why it is a social issue. People might not expect gangs to be a social issue because there are more “important” issues out there, such as gay rights, abortion, homelessness, child abuse, and environmental issues, but that is where they are wrong. Gangs affect people and their communities in many different ways. In some cases, they affect them in more ways than they know or expect. Either they affect the children they recruit, or the mothers of these children, or the neighborhood. Gangs, gang violence, and gang influence in general is much widespread than people know, and if something is not done to constrain it, it will affect communities on an even more personal level, and possible start to deteriorate them.
According to Tom Jackman, a Washington Post staff writer, there are two ways to combat gangs and their violence, one, the Los Angeles approach, and two, the New York approach. In 2005 there were a reported 11,402 gang-related crimes in Los Angeles, and 520 in New York. Jackman says the reason for this is that New York has a lot of programs that direct children away from gangs and their influence; such as job training, after-school activities, mentoring, and recreational programs. In comparison between Los Angeles and New York, these programs greatly impact gang violence by giving children direction in life, or something to do.
One way gangs affect people is because of the alarming rate that children are joining them. It is a two way street for the children and the leaders for the gangs. For the children, normally they come from broken homes, where they are neglected and they yearn for a sense of family. That is why they turn to gangs where they are provided with that sense of importance and belonging. One main reason why “gangbangers” (gang members) join gangs is to gain a reputation. Other reasons include retaliation/revenge, respect, recognition, and money (Nawojczyk). For the gang leaders, they know that juveniles will not be seriously charged for anything and receive a lesser punishment, and so they become comfortable with sending children to do the dirty work for them. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center:
“Street gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs are the primary distributors of illegal drugs on the streets of the United States. Gangs also smuggle drugs into the United States and produce and transport drugs within the country. Street gang members convert powdered cocaine into crack cocaine and produce most of the PCP available in the United States. Gangs also produce marijuana and methamphetamine. In addition, gangs increasingly are involved in smuggling large quantities of cocaine and marijuana and lesser quantities of heroin, methamphetamine into the United States from foreign sources of supply. Gangs primarily transport and distribute powdered cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, MDMA, and PCP in the United States”
Drugs are a very present problem in society, even in first world country America. It is no surprise that almost all of the drugs that are being trafficked are owned and regulated by gangs. For example, the drugs that a gang leader attains from an overseas exporter are given to his gang members in large amounts to sell. Then, it is divided and sold even further, to teens that are either in gangs themselves or are looking for quick money. Sooner or later these drugs find themselves in schools and other institutions of the like.
Apart from drugs and the terror gangs unleash on communities, a considerable amount of crime is also gang related. Unsurprisingly, they are the ones to abuse the second Amendment by owning guns illegally, which only means more crime such as armed robberies and homicides. Without gangs, communities that look filthy and broken down would look a little prettier without the occasional “tagging” of gangs and their vandalism. These taggings are spray paintings of a gang’s initials or symbols that are spray-painted allover a neighborhood’s walls. Gang graffiti is the most common way to relay messages and communicate with other gang members. They communicate messages such as challenges, deeds, warnings, and other pronouncements. Only other gang members can understand these taggings, sometimes members of other rival gangs (Nawojczyk).
Most gang members do not know that by becoming a gangbanger they are lead into a life of destruction, one that they can never leave as it is against all gang rules. Once one is in, he or she is in for life. Fraternity rules apply here as well; in a gang if one tries to leave, they will not make it out alive. The punishment for trying to abandon is almost always death. The last thing one wants to do in a gang is abandon it. The authorities try to crack down on gangs but gangs are becoming engraved in societies. To make sure children are not tempted or forced to join gangs, cities must create programs that allow children to have something to do; keep them occupied (Jackman). People must ensure that children are not neglected, but loved so they do not go looking for love in the wrong places.