Whenever I see young adolescents loitering or hanging out in streets, doing nothing worthwhile but trying to act tough while showing it to their friends or hurting other people, I feel nothing but regret. They should have been at school, learning things that could help them have a better job and future, or at home helping their family and having fun with them. They could do so much if only they make better use of their time and youth. Local governments are faced with the problems associated with gang violence among adolescents.
Preventing adolescents from wasting their lives should be a matter of importance for communities, and this should be prioritized because adolescents can have a better future away from the streets. When crowds of young people gather, they may take a group identity. Other groups or even them, may identify themselves as gangs. Furthermore, cliques tend to identify the formation of a gang as a result of threats or conflicts, police pressure and media coverage.
According to studies, gang behavior is “situational in nature,” and the attribution of hostile behavior to one gang may further contribute to the formation and identity of a gang. In addition, it may be further solidified once “neighbors, police, school authorities, and others identify unsupervised groups of young people as gangs” (Short, 1996, p. 3). Preventing young people from being associated with violent gangs have been one of the priorities of communities. Past studies showed that gang violence continue to plague communities as gang-related crimes increased over time.
For instance, in 1995, it showed that gang-related homicides increased. From 1979 to 1994 alone, a record of 7,288 gang-related homicides was documented in Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The proportion of gang-related homicides increased from 18 to 43 percent (Maceo, 1995). These figures alone would tell how worse gang violence has become. Gang violence brings young people to jails. In fact, many adolescents have been charged for being involved in criminal activities.
Just this year, a 15-year-old student was killed by a young man who was an alleged member of a violent street gang. The 18-year-old suspect, who pleaded guilty, was charged with 30 years in prison (Castaneda, 2009). This scenario should not be the kind of life that young people must have. Families should be the first ones involved as they are the primary influencing factors in the lives of adolescents. In the case mentioned above, the parents of the victim were completely unaware that their son was a member of a gang. They learned about it when it was too late to save their son.
Parents should know the things that their children are being involved in, and must find ways to talk to their children about the consequences of joining gangs that tend to be violent. Parents should encourage their children to be involved in more worthwhile activities, such as sports, that would further develop their skills and improve their talents and make them better individuals. The community also has responsibilities in preventing the existence of violent gangs. There should be constant patrols especially in dark and derelict areas.
It would be also beneficial if there are programs designed to lure young people away from the streets, such as volunteer works or business ventures that would teach adolescents the importance of working and being properly compensated for a good work done. Moreover, a center for young people can help those who are trying to get out of gangs and trying to change. Attention must be focused to those who want a way out because they might be harmed due to their willingness to have a better life. These young people should really have a good, fruitful life that a violent gang can never give them.
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