Social Issue Essay
Essay title: Social Issue Essay
Social Issue Essay
Crime rates in the United States have been significantly increasing over the past decade. What makes this phenomenon even more alarming is that many the reported by crimes were committed by young people as young as 12. Youth who engage in violence and other deviant behaviors are mostly members of a particular gang. Criminologists Helen Adler (145) linked Youth gang membership to the increasing crime rates in the US. She stated that gang members are three times more likely to get involved in violence compared to none gang members. Gang members menace elderly people; persuade the children to use illegal drugs as well as selling these drugs to them; they assault strangers; steal from individuals and burglarize businesses. To make it simple, they cause terror to the community where they belong. According to Gardner (19) Youth gangs are mostly made up of minorities who belong to the lowest ranks of the American socio economic ladders. He also added that youth gangs in the US comprise chiefly of Blacks, Asian and Hispanics with living conditions that are no better than that of their ancestors. The gang problem has reached a staggering proportion over the past decade.
The gang problem is not limited to a specific community or region. It goes on in many other places within the US. According to NYGS (145) there were about 548, 517 gang memberships across the country in 1998. These figures indicate that there is an approximately 280 percent increase of membership over the past seventeen years. Hispanics have the highest percentage of participation with a population of 255, 254 or 46 percent. They are involved in a range of unlawful activities, and their arsenals contain high-powered guns. The Blacks rank second with a population share of 34 percent. They are notorious robbers, burglars, murderers- including the dreaded act of drive-by shootings. They are also well known for drug trafficking throughout the United States. Caucasians rank next to blacks with a share of 12 percent. They are involved in several Hate crimes. White gangs are quite unique because most of their crimes are racially motivated. Asians are around 6 percent of the total population. They are mostly Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian. They bully their own community; their crimes are characterized by home invasion that often times resulted in the torture and death of their victims. The remaining 2 percent comprises of the other racial stock in the country.” Experts are expecting gang membership will reach two million this year.
Experts disagree on why young people joined gangs. According to Sociologists youth join gangs to combat racism and prejudice (Newman 253). Developmental psychologist believed that Young people join gang because they are still struggling to establish their own identity. Joining gives them a sense of identity. It is therefore, necessary, for community leaders and parents to do awareness campaigns and prevention programs before any young person gets hooked with gangs.
In finding a solution, one must first determine the root cause of gang membership. There are several causes why adolescences join gangs. These may include economic depression, family problem, psychological disorders and juvenile adventure. Sociologists David Newman (234) believed that gang membership is a way to combat racism and most gangs today are racially motivated. Helen Bee (28) stated that adolescence join gangs because they are confused and still struggling to establish their own identity. Joining gangs give them a sense of identity. Yet, unknown to them, such quest for identity already makes them a criminal even though they have not committed a crime yet. Gang membership is criminalized in most states. The California penal Code defined gangs as:
“any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, having as one of its primary activities the commission of one or more of the criminal acts enumerated in paragraphs one to eight, which has a common name or common identifying sign or symbol, whose members individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity.” (Section 186.22[f])
The Criminal acts stated in the above code involve the following: assault; robbery; homicide; the sale and manufacture of controlled substances; shooting occupied motor vehicle; arson; the intimidation of witnesses and victims; vehicle theft (cgiaonline.org 2007). The gang members on the other hand, are legally defined as “anyone who actively participates in any gang with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, and who knowingly supports, or aid in any criminal activities by fellow members. (Section 186.22[a]).
The legal definition of gangs and gang membership makes every member a criminal or suspect. Membership