2. Literature review
This chapter reviews the literature with regard to the information on the effects of gangsterism on youth. According to Babbie (2008) literature review creates a foundation, based on existing related knowledge. the researcher reviews the literature looking at what the previous authors have contributed on the area of gangsterism. The researcher reviewed literature from textbooks, journal articles, and other documents that support the study. The study will be focused on the causes of gangsterism on teenagers, as well as the effects of teenager’s participation in gangsterism.
In this chapter the preliminary literature review is presented, whereby the researcher reviewed the literature from previous researchers and focused on their weak points. The researcher included the preliminary literature in order to be able to include the issues, and the main findings and the gaps in literature. The review focuses mainly on electronically accessible research articles and on research published after 2007.
The theoretical framework is presented in this chapter to identify the theory that explains the major causes of gangsterim, however the researcher is mostly interested in the role of the theory in the study rather than the theory itself. The criminal gang types, other common categories used to classify gangs, gang warfare, and gang attitude, factors that may lead teenagers into gangsterism, negative impacts of teenager gang involvement, and the prevention efforts are also presented in this chapter.
2.2 Preliminary Literature review
Gangs never used to be called gangs, and some still do not call themselves gangs (Klein, 2011) Even though several gang affiliates perceive themselves as a family or neighbourhood, it is keen that gangs are basically a criminal initiative. This review of literature will inspect the factors that contribute to the cause of the youth coming together to commit crimes, as well as the question of whether the decisions made to join gangs are forced or made at free will. An enlightenment for the growth of gangs is the continuance of life-threatening poverty and isolation among the group considered ‘at risk’ in our cities. The label that these individuals are all offenders has become one of the reasons gangs rebel against the society.
Klein (1994) found that gang members mostly come from dysfunctional, abusive, or broken homes, poor living conditions, lack of parental discipline, neglect and low incomes. Many studies have shown that a deficiency of time to spend nurturing and appropriately disciplining children can be a substantial cause for delinquent behaviour. The National Centre of Health Statistics in 1988 revealed that children’s well-being is linked with family structure. Children with divorced parents and those who are staying with single parents have been found to have more emotional, behavioural, and academic difficulties than children living with both biological parents.
The researcher concurred that the upbringing of gang members from a dysfunctional home is not really the cause of the problem, but the status brought on stresses and strains that contributed to the deprivation of good parenting. The researcher suggests that the society has to acknowledge that children growing up have needs: support, love, respect, fair discipline and a family with positive social values. If these fundamentals are not a strong part of childhood growth, the child may become antisocial as a youth.
Study done for the Ministry of the Solicitor General of Canada (1985) reviewed the literature on family relationships and delinquency and reached the conclusions that family criminality, whether it be parents or siblings, is a powerful predictor of children’s delinquency, and parental supervision, followed by mother’s affection during childhood, seem to be the two most significant reasons for adolescent criminality. Most gang members have nothing to live for, apart from their hood. They pledge loyalty to their local gang and it becomes their complete world, their family. Their loyalty is severe Heredity
While bad neighbourhoods and lack of moral education is blamed for the formation of gangs, some studies indicate that the desire to join gangs could be, at least in part of their genes (“Boys May Feel a Genetic Pull Toward Gangs”). Spergel (2009) argues that more persistent and violent criminals were born that way. They were throwbacks to a more primitive stage of development.
He also defined a criminal as “an atavistic being who reproduces in his person the ferocious instincts of primitive humanity and the inferior animals,” stating that these people generally have “enormous jaws, high cheekbones, prominent superciliary curves, solitary lines in the palms, extreme size of the orbits, handle-shaped or sessile ears found in criminals, savages, and apes; insensibility to pain, extremely acute sight, tattooing, excessive idleness, love of orgies, and the irresistible craving for evil for its own sake, the desire not only to extinguish life in the victim, but to mutilate the corpse, tear its flesh, and drink its blood. Also, those born with criminal traits “start lawless activities at an early age, and constantly demonstrate anger, a spirit of revenge, idleness, volubility and lack of affection. It is said that aggressive behaviour is one of the early signs of antisocial and criminal tendencies
2.3 Theoretical framework
Strain theory is a sociology and criminology theory developed in 1938 by Robert K Merton. The theory states that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (such as the American dream) however, they lack the means, this causes strain which may lead the individuals to commit crimes such as selling drugs or becoming involved in prostitution to gain financial security. This refers to the processes at the societal level which filter down and affect how the individual sees and understands his needs.
The role of the strain theory in this study is to identify how particular social structures are fundamentally insufficient or there is poor regulation, this may change the individual’s perceptions as to means and opportunities. By the use of the strain theory, the researcher apprehended that the frictions and pains experienced by the gangster teenager as he looks for ways to satisfy his needs if the goals of a society become important to an individual, actually achieving them may become more important than the socially approved means.
The researcher used the strain theory to show how the society can inspire deviance to a large degree. Merton believed that socially accepted goals put pressure on people to conform. People are forced to work within the system or become members of a nonstandard subgroup to accomplish the anticipated goal. The researcher concurred that the teenagers join gangs because they are faced with a gap between their goals and their current status.
The stain theory is perhaps the best theoretical explanation of the phenomenon of juvenile gang criminal activity which is occurring at Langeloop. Strain theory basically states that crime is the result of the strain placed on individuals who are not able to achieve middle class norms through legitimate means. Because they cannot meet those expectations through legitimate means they instead turn to illegitimate means (Akers ; Sellers, 2013).
2.4 Criminal Gang Types
The gang phenomenon is multifaceted and dynamic in nature. According to Spergel (2009) there are persistent changes in gang culture making it hard for law enforcement to categorize gangs by demographics, colors, and gang symbols alone. Gangs differ in size of their affiliation, ethnic structure, organizational structure, associations, and types of criminal intent.
The National Gang Intelligence Center classifies gangs into three basic types such as street gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs and prison gangs which are discussed as follows:
2.4.1 Street Gangs
In the context of the study, street gangs may be defined as a street based group of teenagers with similar backgrounds and motivations who actually meets the criteria of a gang. Street gangs function throughout most of the country at the local, regional, and national levels in urban, suburban, and rural communities (Spergel, 2015).
2.4.2 Prison Gangs
Which are highly organized criminal networks that function within the central and state prison systems, and they frequently interact with criminal street gangs outside the prison system (Klein, 1971).
2.4.3 Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
Which are highly structured, federal organizations which function at the local, regional and national levels. Gangs are judged based on their level of risk to both public safety and national security (Klein, 2014).
2.5 Other common categories used to classify gangs:
2.5.1 National Gangs
For example, the Los Angeles-based Bloods and Crips, and the Chicago-based Black Gangster Disciples and Latin Kings are some of the furthermost generally recognized gangs in America, most likely due to media disclosure. These groups have migrated throughout the country (Hunzeker, 2011). There are literally hundreds of sets or individual gangs under the main names; though they may share the same name, they are not inevitably associated.
2.5.2 Traditional Gangs
According to Huizinga (2013) these historically older gangs tend to have an age-graded assemble of smaller groups or gangs, produce organizational charts and clear rules of conduct and regulations, including complete punishments for breaking gang rules.
2.5.3 Nation Sets
These are associations, such as People Nation, and Folk Nation, under which gangs are aligned. Arrangements may vary for local jurisdictions due to competition for drug territory or violence against one another (Correl, 2011).
2.5.4 Non-Traditional Gang
These are sometimes referred to as neighbourhood-based gangs or crews because they are exclusive to a local area. They have less structured organization and leadership than a traditional gang. They may implement the same colours, signs, and symbols of a nationally known gang or may have their own sole identifiers. Sometimes, they refer to themselves as “a rap group” to dodge the disgrace and law enforcement attention that traditional gangs attract. A non-traditional gang can develop into a traditional gang (Huff, 2013).
2.5.5 Hybrid Gangs
Usually a local, homegrown street gang with very unclear rules, loose organizational structure and leadership because they are mostly in a state of change. Hybrid gangs may have numerous commitments; they may use symbols and colours from larger traditional gangs, even rival gangs. Members may change their associations from one gang to another. It is not unusual for a gang member to claim several gang memberships, even with opposing gangs. They are increasingly varied in race/ethnicity, gender, and economic standing. An existing hybrid gang may change their name or suddenly join with other gangs to form a new gang.
2.5.6 Extremist/Hate Groups
Membership is based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and government ideologies characterized by supremacist, subversive, and separatist belief structures. These groups are predominantly motivated by hate and bigotry, and prone to extreme violence.
2.5.7 Occult Groups
These are sometimes referred to as Stoners whose influences include heavy metal music and horror rap. Characteristics include gothic/vampire cult behaviours, satanic occult behaviours, or other socially unacceptable behaviours, heavy drug use, and a propensity to violence which distinguishes them from fan followers (Huizinga, 2013).
However, gangs are classified, what is important to assess is the level of danger a gang poses to a given community. Examining what types of criminal and violent activities gang members are performing in the name of their gang; where they are doing it; and what factors are contributing to members’ gang involvement are the most useful types of information when making informed decisions to implement targeted suppression, prevention, and intervention strategies.
2.6 Factors that may lead teenagers into gangsterism
2.6.1 A need for recognition and belonging
Some teenagers join gangs simply because they want to be part of a popular group,
Teenagers may feel that they do not receive enough support or attention at home. Lack of attention and caring from others may lead to the teenager doing some gangster activities to the environment just to attract attention.
2.6.2 Academic failure
Children who often perform poor academically and having learning difficulties are easily recruited by gangs.
When you engage in aggressive behaviour, you may feel irritable and restless. You may feel impulsive. You may find it hard to control your behaviour. You might not know which behaviours are socially appropriate. In other cases, you might act aggressively on purpose. For example, you may use aggressive behaviour to get revenge or provoke someone (Huizinga, 2013). You may also direct aggressive behaviour towards yourself. Teenagers who suffer from aggression are easy recruited to join gangs.
2.6.4 Child maltreatment
Huff (2013) stated that when children are not treated well at home they choose to leave the home or family and go to spend their time in the streets where they are eventually drawn into gangs and start engaging in gang related and criminal activities.
2.6.5 Poor parental supervision
Nowadays parents are busy working overtime to find money to feed their children and maintain the family. They do not realize that their children feel neglected. They feel like they lack parental love (Huizinga, 2013). Those parents who are very busy with work do not play their role as parents who are the people that are responsible to provide their children with a good spiritual and moral background.
2.6.6 Substance abuse
Finding by Navaro (2010) indicates that youth who engage in delinquent activities, specifically alcohol and drug use, are more likely to join gangs and that, as a result of youth gang involvement, youth are more likely to use illicit drugs and alcohol.
2.6.7 Community disorganization
Hutson (2015) has found that a community where there are no specific rules and strict enforcement from the authorities may create a good atmosphere for these youngsters to form gangs and practice their criminal behaviour in the community. The teenagers will not be afraid to commit crime because they know the rules and strict law enforcement do not exist in that community and no one will punish them even if they do something wrong.
Gangs may present themselves as a means of survival to teenagers who lack basic essentials such as food, clothing and shelter. More and more, gang use their affiliation to make a profit through illegal activities, such as selling drugs and auto theft.
2.6.9 Family history or tradition
Families can have gang involvement spanning over multiple generations. This is one of the toughest forms of pressure to escape, as the gang lifestyle is deeply rooted in the family and its values.
Teenagers may also be instilled by the media to become a gangster. Nowadays multimedia such as internet, television, and radio are very popular among teenagers. Many dramas and movies show out gangster activities. Most of the movies show the character of a gangster as hero (Spears, 2015). The teenagers end up copying the character in the gangster movie and learn some bad attitude and start to think like a gangster.
2.6.11 Low self esteem
According to Horowitz (2010) teenagers with a low self-esteem are easily approached by a gang and be recruited into the organization. It is in that organization where they get to meet another teenager who are like them. They make a new family and get to spend more and more time together.
2.7 Negative impacts of teenager gang involvement
Once a teenager joins a gang, they automatically put the lives of their family and society at risk. The society will feel insecure and threatened over this matter because they will feel that the surrounding is no longer due to the violent acts of gangsters (Jackson, and McBride, 2011). The community members would normally avoid getting out of their houses because they are afraid of being victims of terrorism. All their daily activities such as sports, recreation, and so on will be reduced or stopped to ensure safety.
U7ually when the most feared gangs engage in a fight, their fights usually result in serious injury or even death. Some of them fight among each other just to prove superiority (Jackson, and McBride, 2011).
2.7.3 Loss of life
Klein (2014) says that the behaviour of a gangster might put their lives in danger because at some point, a gangster can turn out to be a killer. A lot of fighting is involved, and that risks lives of people. Sometimes when you join a gang they do gang initiation which may be shooting someone that you know.
2.7.4 Stigmatization of the family
By the conduct of these gangsters, their families also get impact. The community will lose faith in the family and the family’s integrity will be scratched with the teen actions. Klein (2015) concurs that parents need to receive the bad treatment as the result of their children behaviour. Most probably, parents might be insulted or becoming the subject of hatred from people in their surroundings. They might be blame for what their children had done and through other people eyes they had to be responsible. Somehow, there are parents who try so hard, in order to guide their children back to the right path. However, some children are too stubborn and ignore the advice of their respectful parents. In addition, parents need to face with reality that their children are not turn into a good person and turn out differently from what they had expected. Some parents may be depressed after realizing that their kids are risking their lives like that. The insults that the parents may receive from the society can also lead to depression.
2.7.5 Dark future
At the context of the individual, teenagers who involves themselves with gangsterism will face bad consequences in their life including having a rude future. Thus, their future might be threatened due to the result of their character (Jackson, and McBride, 2010). Most probably they will be detained since somehow, they able to create utterly confused scene in their surroundings.
Horowitz (2011) found that the desires of criminal life for teenagers also affect their life as they unable to perform their study in higher on a par and they might spend their teenage years in juvenile school or rehabilitation centre. On the stubborn, those with a bright future ingenious to continue their study while they had consumption their precious life in prison. They in addition will give a bad impact or power of impelling to the youngers. They will come the foot step of the ranking ones in family and causing them to come the wrong path as the older ones.
Horowitz (2013) stated that teenagers who are involved in gangs may struggle to find employment at a later stage of life because of their history of crime. They might be having a criminal offense or having had dropped out of school and lacking good educational background. They may also lack the required skill to fit for certain job opportunities.
2.7.8 Disadvantages the condition of the society
In communities where gang activity dictates normal living, there are very few signs of healthy, progressive life or development. Community development projects are kept on hold as money is allocated to combat gang warfare (Huff, 2011). Law enforcement agencies take on a tough stance when it comes to these communities. As a result, innocent families also live backward, hopeless lives where their opportunities are severely curtailed by the terrifying presence of gangs
2.7.9 Loss of freedom
When you are in a gang, there are rules that you must live by. You are not able to do what you want or live your life as you wish. Failure to comply to those rules means you must suffer the consequences. Those consequences could be death or getting beaten up.
2.8 Gang attitude
According to nott (2010:6), gangs do not display feelings and vulnerability, instead they offer a collective feeling of power and strength that encourages an uncaring fearless attitude. Gangs have a belief that people do things to help themselves rather than for good or honest reasons. They do not care that the things they do might hurt other people, if there is an advantage for them. Gangs show a strong belief in fate and they also believe that somethings cannot be prevented from happening. He even summarized this gang notion as follows ‘when two killers meet, one must die’.
Nott (2010:6) said that the gangsters have made the law of violence and brutality official and a way of everyday life for them. This concurs with standing’s (2015:10) notion that gangs only live for the moment and they have no fear for future consequences since they believe that things happen because they were meant occur.
2.9 Gang territory
Gangs are often territorial. Pinnock (2011:42) refers to a territory as a section of a community that gangs claim to be their own. Claiming a territory means that only the gang to which this territory belongs may run their criminal activities there. These territories usually cover no more than a one-hundred-meter strip of residential blocks or four to five streets. Nott (2010:6) said that gang members feel safe to move around in the communities that are controlled by their own gangs. Controlling a territory ensures that other gangsters do not steal from their customers or their victims who they rely on for survival (Nott, 2010:6)
Gangs would naturally want to expand their territories in order to increase their income in the criminal market. It was also found by Pinnock (2011:43) that territoriality lead to a probability that children who grow up in the gang’s territory will become a member of the gang, therefore a child living in an enemy’s territory is deemed as an enemy.
2.10 Gang warfare
Gangs would resort to fatal destruction in order to protect their territory. Gang wars are a matter of life and death, and the smallest incident can set off a serious conflict that could lead to physical fighting between opposing gangs. Pinnock (2010) said that incidents regarding issues of space ownership, insulting the manhood of a rival gang, walking across the territory of another gang and flirting with a woman or a girlfriend of an opposing gang can set off battles between rival gangs. Added to this Pinnock (2010) noted that battles between rival gangs can range from brief confrontations between a few members of a gang to full scale gang wars. Standing (2015) asserts that when conflict erupts, large number of gangs fight openly using a frightening array of weapons. The result of gang warfare has turned communities into battlegrounds and stray gunshots often claim the lives of innocent bystanders.
2.11 Prevention Efforts
The prevention efforts targeted at limiting youth involvement in gangs is integral to promoting optimal individual and community well-being, specifically in those areas that are susceptible to gang activity. In recent years there has been an emphasis placed on evaluating gang prevention programs to discern effective approaches and providing a more comprehensive approach.
2.11.1 The Comprehensive Gang Model
The comprehensive gang model developed by the OJJDP focuses on community prevention and intervention in balance with law enforcement suppression activities. The model involves five strategies for responding to gang-involved youth and their families. These include:
Community mobilization, the involvement of local citizens, including former gang members and community groups and agencies, and the coordination of programs and staff functions within and across agencies.
Opportunities provision, the development of a variety of specific education, training, and employment programs targeting gang-involved youth.
Social intervention, youth-serving agencies, schools, street outreach workers, grassroots groups, faith-based organizations, law enforcement agencies, and other criminal justice organizations reaching out and acting as links between gang-involved youth and their families, the conventional world, and needed services.
Suppression, formal and informal social control procedures, including close supervision or monitoring of gang youth by agencies of the criminal justice system and also by community-based agencies, schools, and grassroots groups.
Organizational change and development, development and implementation of policies and procedures that result in the most effective use of available and potential resources to better address the gang problem.
An important aspect to implement the Comprehensive Gang Model in a community is to first assess the youth gang problem. This assessment includes collecting quantitative and qualitative data from community representatives such as law enforcement, school faculty, youth, parents, community leaders, probation officers, gang members, grass roots organizations, and local government. Data collected includes the perception of the gang problem as well as what the community consider as priority needs such as tutoring, jobs training, increased police presence, and mentoring for youth.
Properly assessing a community’s gang problem significantly improves the development of an implementation plan. The plan should include goals and objectives based on the assessment findings and should address the five core strategies previously described. The OJJDP comprehensive gang model details the steps required for assessment and provides the necessary data collection tools.
An example of a gang prevention effort that has been widely utilized in the U.S. to promote positive youth development and help rehabilitate youth involved with a gang(s) is mentoring. Mentoring works on the foundation that youth benefit from close, enduring, caring relationships with adults. By providing adult support and guidance through adolescence, mentoring has been found to provide a variety of benefits to both youth and mentors, including the prevention of juvenile delinquency and youth gang involvement.
Mentoring is commonly used in school and after school programs, as well as in the broader community. While mentoring is a strategy that can be used to enhance positive youth development for all youth, it has also been utilized for rehabilitating youth who are already involved with gangs or the juvenile justice system.
2.11.3 Advice and guidance by the school’s counselorsSchool counselors also play an important role to solve gangsterism problems among teenagers. As we know, teenagers spend their time almost half of their days in school, so that, if school counselors are playing their role as instructor, facilitator and also counselor to their students by giving and organizing some proper and suitable programmes, their students will be have more knowledge and views on bad effects in partaking in gangsterism activities. They will be more attentive that gangsterism will make them suffer and life as a student will become worse if they are punished to be expelled from school.
In other words, only school counselors have a big role and hold the responsibility in creating a good personality in their students’ character.The school counselors must keep in touch with their students who are involved themselves in disciplinary problems because most probably this students might bring themselves in gangsterism cases too. Besides that, the school counselors must try to find ways to avoid gangsterism activities to happen in their school premises. To summarize, if the school counselors are always aware about their students’ activities, the number of teenagers involved in gangsterism will be reduced each day and gangsterism cases can be solved by the advice and guidance by the school counselors.
2.11.4 Strict enforcement by the authorities
Strict enforcement by the authorities also can resolve this gangsterism problem among teenagers. Nowadays, teenagers appear not to have any feeling and are not scared of what they are going to do. So, if the authorities let them know that there are some strict enforcement that will be taken towards the remorse of gangsterism cases, teenagers will think double when they want to be involved in gangsterism because they will know that if they are trapped by the authorities, there will be punishment and strict enforcement ahead for them.
In brief, only strict enforcement by the authorities will make the teenagers feel anxious about being involved in gangsterism. Therefore, authorities must play their role in solving this problem before it gets worse day by day.
In this chapter the researcher concluded that, gangsterism is caused by many causes and factors. No matter caused by surrounding, parents, friends or media. Gangsterism also brings a lot of negative effects to the teenagers and the society. So, to control these social ill, parents, educators and community should be aware of what is going on among the youths. Though there are various psychological and physical factors that caused a person to choose to become a gang member, so parents or guardians should help them to give their children with love, respect and always to have concerned them to reduce they join gangsterism.