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Chapter 2 of this book analyses the relationship between the increase in gang members and an increase in delinquency. Different researchers show that gangs range from groups that have solid structures to those with loose structures. Gangs with solid hierarchical structures have clearly defined rational goals, actions, and leaders. However, Decker and Curry (2002) define gangs as a kind of collective behavior instead of complex organizations. They hold that any gang with defined structures is a good example of organized crime.
Decker and Curry developed their findings by conducting research among students. The questions asked whether the students belonged to a gang and whether they had been members of a gang before. They also sought to establish whether the respondents had engaged in any illegal activities, are they members of a gang or not. The specific measures included asking questions whether one had friends who were gang members, whether they wore gang colors, whether they hanged out with people who were gang members, and whether they flashed gang signs.
There are different theories that explain how the youth join the gang groups depending on the type of the gang. For the well-structured gangs, becoming a member entails two critical decisions: one decides to become a member, and secondly, the gang permits membership. People usually form gangs for material gain, recreation and commitment to the society. Gangs also recruit members to strengthen the existing resources. Under the loosely structured gangs, membership is non-stable, temporary, once for all social fact. Young people join these gangs and are recognized as members almost immediately.
Curry and Decker (2002) carried out a study to determine the linkage between gang involvement and delinquency among young people. The findings of the study revealed that there is a high connection between gang involvement and delinquency. During the study, the authors asked young people about their involvement in a wide range of delinquent behaviors under a topic they referred to as self-reported delinquency. The findings revealed that the youths who were members of a gang, or were gang involved reported a higher rate of delinquency than the youths who were not involved in any gangs. Most notable form of delinquency reported was violence against another person. More than 55% of gang involved youths reported that they had been involved in violence as compared to only 24% of the youths who did not involve themselves with gangs.
The results also revealed that among the respondents who reported to being gang members, 37.5% owned a gun while 31.3% carried it around with them. This is quite a big number in comparison with only 2.1% who owned a gun and 3.1% who carried a gun among youths who were not gang members. 52.5% confessed to drinking, and 40% used marijuana among the gang members. Only 8% used alcohol or wine and 13% used marijuana among the non-gang members. This clearly indicates that those involved in gangs have an impact of increasing delinquency among the youths.
Curry and Decker (2000) also indicated that there is a high rate of victimization among the gang members, which partly resulted in members getting involved in delinquent behavior due to fear. Respondents revealed having received threats by being shot at by a gang member. The authors of this book established that members of a gang are three times more likely to experience victimization than non-gang members. In addition, gang related violence was on the violence as members of a gang seek to reiterate against a gang that has attacked them before.
The authors also researched on linkage between officially recorded delinquency and gang delinquency. The conclusion was that those youths who self-reported of getting involved in delinquent behavior in a gang were arrested with the subsequent five years. In addition, the police apprehended them for a gang-motivated delinquency. Moreover, such people had previous records of delinquency from the schools. This is a clear indication of a link between delinquency and gang involvement.
This article provides insight on the link between delinquency and gang membership. I believe that the book is a true reflection of what happens in society in today. With the emergence of the increased number of gangs, delinquent behaviors among young adults and adolescents are coming up. Youths involved in gangs have high chances of demonstrating delinquent behaviors like drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. Moreover, such people are likely to own firearms and learn how to use them at an early age.
It is also evident that gang involvement increases violence against the members and other members of the society. In most instances, members of a gang engage in violence to protect each other in the name of loyalty. In other instances, such members engage in violence as an order from the leaders of the gang. Such members do not have a say in what they ought to do, and they only follow orders.
The structured gangs are sometimes channels for organized crimes, as well. Such members engage in crimes like drug trafficking and hide in the pretense of a group of people with the intentions of having fun. As a result of membership in such groups, many young people have quit school and started engaging in self-destructive behaviors. Most of them have spent nights in juvenile prisons for the delinquent behaviors. Many young people have lost the hope of a bright future due to engagement in gangs. The problem becomes worse when young people start using drugs. Moreover, many of them have lost their lives in such gang related activities.