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America's Youth in Gangs

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America's Youth in Gangs

The idea of gangs is not something new. From the beginning of the human race populating the earth, the need of survival has been imprinted into the human DNA. It may be a type of instinct, or a more basic human need of those that will lead, and those that will follow. The youth of America is being recruited and joining gangs at an alarming rate. The issue of the gang's existence is not really the question; these have existed in the past, present, and will continue to thrive in the future. The disturbing facts are the ages of the members being recruited. along with the increase of the female members.

More than ever, gangs are becoming a bigger burden on society. In the past, the idea of gang usually brought to mind the typical stereotype of the biker gang riding Harley's, or the inner city gangs that were primarily comprised of minorities. Today's gangs are a whole new level of players. The members are not exclusive to just the males. Membership is steadily increasing with both the males and females. Yet, the most disturbing fact may be the age of the newly recruited gang members.

In a Law enforcement bulletin by the FBI, it stated that the average age of a gang member committing their first crime was at the age of nine (FBI, September 2007). At this age, children need to be nurtured and learning the social skills to be a productive member of society. Unfortunately, for too many, the cast is made and the future for these young and innocent kids will be a life of hardship, depression, and the continuing cycle of crime that will ultimately lead to future children being recruited and born into the gang lifestyle.

The FBI bulletin also stated that in addition to gang members committing their first offense at the age of nine, they became active gang members at the age of thirteen (FBI, September 2007). These two statistics are incredible too not only hear, but to also accept that this is a reality in America 2008. What kind of future can we expect from the youth of today? More importantly, what kind of future are we creating for our society by knowing that many children are being placed into unthinkable situations of having to make a choice based on survival?

One of the most important factors of at-risk youth is the family. Overwhelming risk factors for at-risk youth are single parent families, poverty, demographics, drugs, and other family members already in the gangs (Justice Quarterly, June 2008). What else can be truly expected from a young child who is growing up in the projects? The odds are against them, the instinct of survival is too strong. These candidates for future gang recruitment will be those that will stray to the enticement of drugs. The lure of drugs, rather it be for the personal satisfaction or for the quick buck is a powerful tool for the gangs to use as recruitment.

The environment in which a child is raised in is a major factor in deciding success from failure. Children that are raised in single parent families are at most risk. Often, these children are given the latitude of making decisions and selecting poor role models. Additionally, their lifestyle in which they choose is molded by the friends they make, and some of the regretful choices that will be made as a result of peer pressure. The idea of

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