The National Institute of Justice defines a gang as the following: “an association of three or more individuals whose members collectively identify themselves by adopting a group identity, which they use to create an atmosphere of fear or intimidation”. Gangs became increasingly popular in the 1920s, and over the decades, there have been gangs of all kinds of backgrounds; from the infamous Italian mobs and gangs to the Irish, Hispanic, and African American.
African American gangs make up about 35% of the countries gang, making it the second largest ethnicity involved in gangs (“National Youth Gang Survey Analysis”). The two largest and most known black gangs are the Bloods and Crips; though there are many gangs African Americans gangs all over the country from large cities to small rural towns. No matter where they reside, they are a controversial topic. Gangs are notorious for their involved in violent crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, murder, rape, etc.
The statistics on African American youth gang violence is alarming. Niaz Kasravi, a member of the NAACP, said, “the type of violence we see in poor African American communities of color on a daily basis is heartbreaking and should also be given attention”. In a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics for the year 2009, had 7,391 gun-related cases- of which 90 percent were males and the majority of which was black males. Along the same lines, a study conducted by the Washington D.C. Violence Policy Center showed that African American citizens are four times more likely to be murdered than any other ethnicity. The root of all of the violence being a crippling economic support for the African American communities, which is what gangs stem from. (Schou 2014).
A poor economy leaves African American families struggling, making their family structure significantly weak. Young boys turn to gangs as a means of protection and support. African American gangs. While it may be true that it offers young boys protection and a sense of family, the true reality of a gang is harsh and violent. In the life of gangs, no one is safe. It is not just the people within the gang, but their families as well. In November 2015, Tyshawn Lee, a nine-year-old boy, was murdered by three gang members of an opposing gang to his father’s. Tyshawn was targeted to get back at his father.
The first step is, of course, educating the youth about the risk factors of joining a gang. By helping the youth understand the cons about joining gangs, it will provide the insight to the harsh reality of the life of crime and help our youth understand their lives are much more valuable. Programs such as the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T) and Preventive Treatment Programs already exist and are working hard to reach out to the youth in hopes to help solve the youth gang problem. Community programs are other excellent alternatives that in provide hope and sense of belonging and family. By understanding the risk factors and using those to pinpoint at-risk youth, our communities can prevent kids from joining gangs. The African Centered community should take the lead and develop grass roots gang prevention programs our community.
Gorner, Jeremy, and Peter Nickeas. “Man Charged in Killing of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee, Woman in Gang Feud.” Chicago Tribune. CBS Chicago, 08 Mar. 2016. Web. 21 June 2016.
Howell, James C. “Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs.” Juvenile Justice, Dec. 2010. U.S. Department of Justice. Web. 21 June 2016.
“National Youth Gang Survey Analysis.” Demographics. N.p., 2012. Web. 21 June 2016.
Schou, Solvej. “Here’s Why Gang Violence Deserves as Much Outrage as School Shootings.” TakePart. Participant Media, 30 Jan. 2014. Web. 21 June 2016.
“What Is a Gang? Definitions.” National Institute of Justice