African Americans and Youth Violence
Essay title: African Americans and Youth Violence
Over the decades, the perspective of juvenile delinquency has seemed to intensify, as it has been regarded as an epidemic. Youth violence has appeared to proliferate in many areas, but specifically in Chicago, Illinois. Quite often what is missing in conceptually understanding youth violence is the acknowledgement that certain factors place children, youth, and families at risk for violence. Special attention is directed at the effect of poverty, character of the neighborhoods, character of the family, peer influence, and particularly the influence of street codes (Bennett & Fraser, 1).
For the urban African American youth in this area, violence is the ritual of daily life. The Youth in this segment witness it, barely escape it, and become caught up in it. They are vulnerable to the community they live in, since deteriorating buildings attract criminal behavior. One of the most critical inter-group tensions is gang violence. There are some predominantly African American gangs in Chicago that constantly fight one another. Two of these gangs include the “Gangster Disciples” and the “Black Disciples” (
and even murdering one another. These gangs on the Southside account for the high numbers of murders in this area. In 2002, there was an average of five murders each
month in this area alone (Sheney, 2004). It can be implied that many of these murders were gang-related.
From a conservative perspective, they would label Juvenile delinquency as a deviant act. Juvenile delinquents have created a subculture that provides them with motives, reasons, and justifications that enable them to account for their involvement in proscribed activities. Within this subculture they have developed a rational to justify their misdeeds, during times when they are brought under scrutiny by police, courts etc. For instance, when youth engage in a crime, and are charged with a criminal offense, they deny their involvement. What youth fail to realize, is that as they engage in criminal acts, they disrupt the fabric of society.
On the other hand, a liberal perspective would criticize the social problems as inherent in the stereotypes, biases, and discriminatory tendencies, which are embedded in institutions encompassing Cook County Chicago. These youth are not provided with appropriate tools to succeed in life, education etc., because structural disadvantages exist. There are too few positive stimuli, such as community resources, and far too may negative stimuli, such as the deteriorating community. If we can develop programs to intervene at an early stage, than we can unite the community to understand that juvenile delinquency is preventable. Prevention is the most efficient means, both in terms of cost-effectiveness, and providing a nurturing environment for youth to grow. Ultimately, if we change the philosophy of the institutions, residents will become more productive, and this will enhance people’s lives.
Youth residing in Cook County are both directly and indirectly affected by their socially disorganized neighborhood. The devastating portrayal of Cook County, indicates that potential indicators of social disadvantage exert both direct and indirect influences on youth. Estimates show the 60624 zip code (Cook County) had the fourth-highest percentage of households headed by single women with children, the third-highest unemployment rate and the third-lowest per capita income. Single parents who are poor often have less contact with neighbors and are less likely to monitor the activities and associations of their children (Bennett & Fraser, 2). Thus, the combination of single parent-hood and poverty reduces the resources available to children and