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Alana Parenti

English Composition II
Research Paper
Impact of Gangs on Society

As stated on the National Institute of Justice website, the state definition for gang is an
organized, criminal group of three or more members who unite for one sole purpose or belief and
share anything to mark gang relations from either a similar tattoo or the same employer. A youth
gang is very comparable to the technical term for gang with the only difference being that the
general age for a member of a youth gang is 12 to 24 years of age. Seeing as how young girls and
boys are being initiated at a young age, the numbers are rising for the number of gangs and gang
members in the United States. No matter what part of the country or world you live in, nearby
you there is most certainly going to be some form of a gang affiliation. The up rise of gang-life
in society has negatively influenced the lives of youth and have increased in numbers over the
past few decades.
The beginning of gang relations in America did not start from Americans themselves. To
guarantee that America had a sufficient supply of weapons, such as Tommy guns, in the 1920s
gang members from Ireland and Italy were migrated from their home country to the big cities of
New York and Los Angeles (http://www.timetoast.com/timelines/history-of-gangs-in-america) to
spread gang violence. Thus, started the beginning of street gangs as how we know them today.
From that point, gangs have multiplied and multiplied.
At present time, there are a reported 33,000 criminally active street and prison gangs in
the United States with over 1.4 million members who commit crimes like robbery, rape, murder,
gun and drug-trafficking, and prostitution rings (http://www.fbi.gov/about-

us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/gangs/gangs). A gang typically is organized in different rankings


that depend on the longevity a member has been a part of the gang. There is a core, the leaders,
recruits, associated or regulars, and fringe (http://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resourcemanual-103-gang-statistics). The core of a gang are the members who determine criminal
activity. With there being over a million gang members in the United States and the numbers
growing each decade, these influential members seek out youth minorities in low-income
neighborhoods and offer them appealing deals that they choose in return for their criminal
services as a gang member.
There are many factors that fall into place when a gang searches for new members to
initiate into their group. The members will prey on young boys mainly, but there are also young
girls who will get initiated based on family or personal relationships with someone on the inside.
Reasons why youths become gang members include: lack of positive role models; low selfesteem; physical safety/security; peer relations; sense of identity; increased status; opportunities
for excitement; and making fast money, especially by selling drugs (Understanding and
Responding to Youth Gangs). With a childs mind being so easily manipulated by any sort of
mentor or parental/maternal figure, they are more susceptible to the lure of wealth and status
within a community.