Contemporary Issues in Youth Gangs

Week 3 Contemporary Issues in Youth Gangs
University of Phoenix
Barbara Langley
August 25, 2008

      There have been gangs in the United States, dating back to the eighteenth century. Gangs started to grow and become more involved in drug activity in the mid-1900.
“In the early part of the century gang members were mostly second-generation white Immigrants from Eastern Europe. Africa –Americans who had recently immigrated to northern cities were also involved in gang activity. A 1992 gang migration study of     1,100 cities found most youth gangs are homegrown. A recent law enforcement analysis found that 48% of gang members are black, 43% are Hispanic 4% are Asian, and 5% are whites” (Howell, 1997).
    Youth gangs are usually formed with about three or four members ranging in ages from 12 to 24.   To give their gang a sense of identity and permanence they use a style of clothing, graffiti, and hand signs, to show they belong to a certain group. These youth are looking to belong, and the older well organized street gangs know this and take advantage of the needs these children have.
    The factors that have contributed to the proliferation of youth gangs are community wide social and economic conditions, the loss of employment, poverty; racism also the media has also glamorized this lifestyle. Most of the children who find who themselves in these gangs come from families where the father, mother or other relative has a history of gang membership or in prison for gang activity.  
    “The growth of youth gang violence in the period from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s coincided with the crack cocaine epidemic, these two events were generally perceived to be interrelated” (Klein, 1995).   Youth gangs do not manage or control drug distribution at any of the upper levels of the drug trade, these youth are mainly involved in mainly street level sales. The big level dealers use these youths because of their age. They know these young people face...