Added to this is the challenge that the recidivism rates for gang members are significantly higher than non-gang members. According to Hughes (2006), "gang members were almost 3.5 times more likely than nongang members to get rearrested for a new crime. (...) (T)heir gang membership in and of itself (I.e., after statistically controlling for these other factors) also increased their odds of rearrest" (p. 200). Social instability also includes an increased incidence of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Although many second and subsequent generation Mexican-Americans have been party to acculturation, gang activity, according to Miller et. al (2008), has a much greater impact on drug use and other risky behaviors than anything else. With a majority of gang members using drugs more than once a week, a figure four time higher than that of non-gang members, the gang lifestyle takes illegal recreational drug use and for many converts it to addiction, making what originally was perceived as a benefit a large detriment. Violence too is a significant disadvantage of being a gang member, as is social instability.
Gang membership has been associated with an earlier onset of sexual intercourse. Increased unsafe safe practices also plagues gang members of all ethnicities, including Mexican-American gangs. This leads to not only an increased chance of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, but also for early pregnancy or fathering a child. Morris et al. found that incarcerated youth gang members also more frequently reported suicidal ideation and suicide attempts (cited in "Youth violence," 1998). Long-term involvement with drugs, frequent incarceration, and continued exposure to violence effectively rules out stable work or family careers, according to Moore (2000).
Gang life for many Mexican-Americans, at first glance, appears to be an acceptable lifestyle alternative. In fact, given how embedded Mexican-American gangs can be in certain neighborhoods, due to their longevity lasting generations, it may appear to be the only lifestyle choice. In contrast to gangs of other ethnicities, Mexican-American gangs have a community familial aspect, due to the close-knit Hispanic community. This extended gang family is especially important when students fail in areas like education and feel like they really have no other viable options. However, this close-knit community still exists culturally, even without the existence of gangs, therefore it's truly not a benefit for Mexican-American community members.
Other benefits of belonging to Mexican-American gangs involve economic opportunities that individuals may feel are unavailable in their communities. Selling drugs, to prospective gang members, may appear to be the path to wealth and the accoutrement that accompany wealth. With this is also the perceived benefit of status and power. Yet that wealth, status and power are fleeting, given the illegal nature of their attainment, and can be taken away in an instant by law enforcement or an act of violence. Partying, ...
From the moment a gang member enters a gang, violence is a part of their way of life. Many gang induction ceremonies are based on ritualized violence. Whether it is part of drug dealing or ancillary to some other crime or simply violence conducted for the sake of violence, the reality is that gangs are becoming increasingly lethally violent and the mortality rates for gang members far out pace their non-gang member counterparts. It's difficult to enjoy any small benefits of being in a gang when an individual is severely injured, or worse, dead.
All of this leads to social instability, coupled with increased likelihood of being convicted of a crime, increased recidivism once convicted of a crime, increased chance of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, and increased chance of being a party to an unplanned pregnancy. All of these factors lead to the biggest disadvantage, the reduced likelihood of a gang member ever being able to enjoy a stable family environment or career. Although at first glance joining a gang may seem to offer a variety of benefits, the disadvantages that come with Mexican-American gang life outweigh the few benefits that are perceived.
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Delgado, M. (2005). Latinos & Alcohol Use Abuse Revisited Ad. Binghamton: Haworth Press Inc.
Harris, M. (Feb 1994). Cholas, Mexican-American girls and gangs. Sex Roles, 30(3/4). Retrieved May 18, 2009, from MasterFILE Premier.
Huff, C.R. (2001). Gangs in America III. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.
Hughes, L.A. (2006). Studying Youth Gangs (Violence Prevention and Policy). Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
Miller, J., Miller, H., Ventura, H., Zapata, J., Zenong, Y. (Winter 2008). Mexican-American youth drug use and acculturation. Journal of Drug Issues, 38(1). Retrieved May 18, 2009, from MasterFILE Premier.
Moore, J. (Apr 2000). Latino gangs: A question of change. Justice Professional, 13(1). Retrieved May 18, 2009, from Business Source Complete.
Spergel, I.A. (1995). The Youth Gang Problem: A Community Approach. New York: Oxford University Press, USA.
Although many second and subsequent generation Mexican-Americans have been party to acculturation, gang activity, according to Miller et. al (2008), has a much greater impact on drug use and other risky behaviors than anything else. With a majority of gang members using drugs more than once a week, a figure four time higher than that of non-gang members, the gang lifestyle takes illegal recreational drug use and for many converts it to addiction, making what originally was perceived as a benefit a large detriment. Violence too is a significant disadvantage of being a gang member, as is social instability.
However, some gang members specialize in multiple criminal activities such as street robbery, human trafficking and drug trafficking. Street Gangs Street gangs are the major concern to parents, school administrators and the communities because they recruit students and the youths across the United States to enhance the growth of gang memberships. Street gangs are the most prevalent type of gangs in the United States because they influence a strong control in
Gangs in Prison Although the United States prison system remains extremely dangerous due to overcrowding, guard and administrator abuse, and widespread detention and isolation practices that would be considered torture by the United Nations, they also serve as fertile breeding grounds for dangerous gangs, and in fact, American prisons have given rise to some of the most dangerous prison and street gangs of the twenty and twenty-first century. Of these, five
Gangs in the Military In the present era the gang problem is all encompassing and intimidating in a greater measure compared to any other period in history. In the bygone 20 years, gang associations have transcended all socioeconomic, ethnic and racial limits and currently pervade American society. Gangs by way of increased dreadfulness, felony and economic costs influence society. Now we are confronted with the outcome of the gang subculture's startling
In the 1940s, the Klan began using bombings of their homes to scare blacks who had moved into the "wrong" neighborhood. In 1944, the IRS filed a lien against the Klan for over $600,000 and it was forced to disband. Its numbers by then had dwindled to about 10,000. During the 1950s, to the present day, the Klan has disintegrated into separate small groups with different purposes depending on location.
This becomes further complex as economic ties blur between the poor and middle classes and the expectations each has about the definition of materialistic success. By belonging to a subculture, however, one can feel part of something larger, insulated a bit from the criticisms and unattainable messages of the upper middle class, and certainly a way to belong and feel important with one's own environment (Siegel and Welsh, 2009,
Gangs The Issue of Gangs History of Gangs in the United States of America Northeast Region (specifically New York City Midwest Region (specifically Chicago) West Region (specifically Los Angeles) South Region First period Current Status of Gangs in the United States of America Types of Gangs in the United States of America Factors Triggering Indulgence in Gangs Impacts of Gang Activities on United States of America Recommendations for Community Response This paper will analyze the nature of gang membership within the