A juvenile gang is an anti-social or any criminal act that is evident among children or adolescents. Gang members are known to commit violent crimes at a higher rate than that of non gang delinquents. Those youths that are involved in a gang are more frequently victimized with involvement in violent crimes than other youths in the society. Some major factors that are attributed to development of bad behaviors are psychological, social and economic factors. Juvenile crime and delinquency are serious problems in the whole world. Extend of effects depends mostly on the social, economic and cultural conditions in every country. Due to difficult times in economy of a country evident by less trade and unemployment, there has been an increase in juvenile criminality. Poor socio-economic environment that is shaped by poverty and destitution have contributed to poor social background involving violence (Gordon, 2006). The likelihood of becoming a victim of violence is much higher for gang members than it is for members of other peer groups. Most of the criminal cases that are evident among the adults are usually based on their bad behaviors when they were young. A criminal offense that is frequently committed by the children is theft and other bad behaviors like rape and more serious property destruction is usually evident at later age
The numbers of African American adolescents that drop out of school are rising in number and many of them are male. According to a report by the National Centre of Education Statistics (as cited in Breiling, Maser and Stoff, 1997 ), these adolescents school drop outs are less likely to find employment, also in the other hand, those that completes school do not find employment either. The African American juvenile delinquency leads in number of those youths that are involved in homicide victimization, perpetration, arrests convictions, incarceration, unemployment, school drop outs and are highly represented in alternative and special education schools.
Multicultural differences in juvenile gangs
Various multicultural issues have become of major concern in many of the juvenile delinquencies. The disorganization in families that can lead to emotional maladjustments plays an important role in arising of many delinquents (Gordon, 2006). In many cities adolescents usually forms a gang in which many young people are involved by acquiring these bad behaviors. Caucasian youths have a much lesser tendency than ethnic minority adolescents to establish or join to gangs. For African American and other ethnic minority youths, it seems that other largely contributing factors are neighborhood disorganization, the need for self protection, and the intergenerational role models who are likely to be gangs and the need to express their power (Breiling, Maser and Stoff, 1997). The number of African American children and adolescents in schools are found to be involved in drug abuse at a lower rate than the Caucasian and Hispanic counterparts. The number of Caucasian detainees of drug abuse is higher than the African American detainees with the same offense.
The ratio of African to Caucasian young women that are involved in violent acts is three to one; this shows a large ethnic difference than with males whose black to white ratio is three to two, (Breiling, Maser and Stoff, 1997). This has raised a major concern by the United States government since during the past two decades youth gang problem grow at an alarming rate. Youth gangs are present in almost all the large cities and youth gangs is now seen to be affecting even the small towns and rural areas. According to a research that was done by National Youth Gang Centre, it showed that the ethnicity of gang members is estimated as forty eight percent African American, forty three percent Hispanic, five percent Caucasian and four percent were Asians (Lonnie, 1999). The minority groups, African American and Hispanics, are not really likely to be involved in gang activities, but rather because they are overrepresented in areas whereby there are a lot of criminal activities of the gangs. It is evident that the patterns of criminality and gang related offences vary with ethnicity.
Although many gangs are made up of minority groups, the relationship between ethnicity and gang formation is not well defined. But it appears that gangs from different ethnicities involve in different activity patterns. For example, African American gangs are known to be involved in drug trafficking, the Hispanic gangs are more likely to be involved in turf-related violence while the Asian and Caucasian gang are known to be involved in property crimes, that is burglaries and theft (Lonnie, 1999). Within the youth population it is known that the number of African American adolescents that are arrested for violent crimes including murder, rape, robbery and assault are five times more likely than Caucasian youths. Their number was also higher considering the number of youths that were in detention and incarcerated. Within the African American community, drug dealers tends often to operate in the streets thus are more likely to be arrested and apprehended. In the other hand, Caucasian property criminals usually carry out their trade in less visible locations thus lesser arrests.
Decrease in the level of job opportunities have led to African American youths to get involved in drug trafficking in inner cities. This effect has also led to an increase in the number of African American involved in arrests for property crimes. African American male youths and even adults are more likely than the Caucasians to be arrested for robbery. There are differential offending patterns among the minority (black) and the white youths. According to Charish, Kelly & Sebastian, (2004), the minority youths were much more likely to have prior and chronic histories for delinquency. The Africa American youths were arrested with serious violent crimes than the whites, the report also concluded.
The African American juvenile delinquents were more likely than the white youths to be detained, have their petitions filed and were less likely to be placed on probation at fist intake. The gender effects were also evident in the juvenile system process. It was shown that the females had low chances of being detained, have their petitions filed, transferred to adult courts, high chances of having their petitions filed and were more likely to be placed in custody if they were adjudicated by the juvenile courts.
According to Charish, Kelly & Sebastian (2004), in the American rural cities, the African American youth had greater chances of having their cases being dismissed than among the whites. The Hispanic youths had low chances to have petitions filed on their cases compared to the whites. However, if they were adjudicated they would be more preferably placed in custody than the white youths. African American and Hispanic juvenile delinquents caught with the first offence received greater preference to have their cases dismissed than the whites with their first criminal judges. Those Hispanic youths that were first time criminal offenders and had been adjudicated had high degree to be placed in custody than the whites with same offence.
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Youth gangs usually are involved in activities that are regarded as a menace to the society and are illegal. These gangs are relates their violent acts to those dated back in seventeen and eighteen century whereby they use to battle rivals and terrorize communities. The gang activity that used to consist merely of vandalism, petty theft and battlers in early centuries have nowadays turned to those acts of burglary, extortion and drug dealing. Many researchers believe that most of the juvenile gangs are not affected by the justice system and if they are caught, they are often set free (Tsou, 1997). These usually contribute to most serious and frequent offences.
There has been an immense spread of gang activities that were only seen to be prominent in large cities to all over smaller areas. Some analysts foresee the coming storm of gang violence saying that "it will be more brutal than anything Americans have ever confronted", (Tsou, 1997). These are attributed to the expected increase in the number of male blacks and Hispania adolescents in the near future.
There is a great impact of the effects of gang membership on those who are involved. Gang membership has brought greater levels of violent offenders than the influence of other highly delinquent non gang peers. Also a youth involved in a gang is known to be involved in serious and violent acts. The gang conflicts is seen as a major factor in growth of youth gang homicides over the past decade due to increased access to and use of lethal weapons. The gang's activities have led to disruption of communities and schools. In America's schools gangs usually creates an environment of intimidation and fear thus making it impossible for students to learn. Juvenile gangs have contributed to more social problems through drug trafficking to the youths at schools.
Justice to Juvenile gangs is based on racial or ethnical stands and this has proved to be of great hindrance to equal justice for all in western countries especially in America. A report showing that the number of imprisoned minority youth was gradually increasing even when the number of their arrests declined clearly proves that there was no fairness in the juvenile courts, (Charish, Kelly & Sebastian, 2004). The inappropriate representation of the minority youth is attributed to greater involvement of the minority youth in crime and also unequal treatment of minority youth in juvenile courts. There is an evidential great difference in the offending pattern basing on the racial and ethnic groups. The American government perceived the fact that the high number of black youths in the juvenile courts revealed their greater involvement in criminal activities. The greater involvement of the minority youth in crimes than the whites is largely contributed to their social status in the surrounding environment. Some males involved in homosexuality may go against the society bearing hatred in their hearts and these may lead to development of delinquency with the likelihood of these young people joining youth gang and be incarcerated during their adolescent age (Action Committee against Violence, 2003).
Youth gangs are made up of members of ethnic groups occupying the lowest level on the American socioeconomic status. Gang members are known to participate majorly in a number of delinquent and criminal acts than youths who are not involved in gangs. One of the most common factors that contribute to the occurrence of delinquent behaviors among the juveniles is poverty (Jensen & Rojek, 2003). Those children that are brought up in poor families are likely to face more economic strain and in trying to obtain their daily needs. More severe antisocial outcomes are related to early adoption of eloquent behaviors. The difference in the social status between the urban and rural areas youth have resulted to varied crime rates. Crime rates in urban are higher than in rural because of the occurrence of slums, overcrowded settlements and lack of basic services. Delinquency rates are high in the more economically and technologically advanced countries (Alina, 2009).
Juvenile delinquency is a serious problem all over the world that not only affects the victim of the crime but also juvenile delinquents family, their future and society at large. The major prominent forces that are sources of delinquency are the media, community and religion. The minority youth group are highly involved in crime and receives harsher juvenile justice system treatment than white youths. More studies have shown occurrence of discrepancies in law enforcement's treatment of minority group. In order to get rid of delinquent children in the society, the community should actively involve themselves in providing essential services for the well being of their children.
Since the African American and other economically disadvantaged ethnic minority youths have poorer prospects for completion of education and for employment, they are more likely to turn to illegal means to get their material needs met. A conclusion is based on the fact that, when a society imposes a sense of self-hatred to minority group, they are forced to adapt high rates of suicide, substance abuse, violence and creation of individuals characterized with difficulties in having love relationships. Although most gang violence occurs between rival gangs of the same ethnic background, gang activities affect almost everyone in the community.
African Americans children and adolescents are known to be affected by infant mortality and deaths caused by diseases that can even be prevented, AIDS, substance abuse, unintentional injury and violence.
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