How Do Gangs Affect Adolescent Behavior?
Since the early 1920s, researchers have closely studied the relations between street gangs and violent crime from a variety of perspectives: criminological, sociological, and psychological (Thomas, 2008). Whatever the underlying causes for gang membership, the results seem clear; members of street gangs admit to a far greater rate of serious crime, and to far more severe acts of the same age, race, and socioeconomic background (Penly Hall, Thornberry & Lizotte, 2006) than non-gang members of the same age, race, and socioeconomic background (Battin-Pearson, Thornberry, Hawkins & Krohn, 1998).
According to the Web site safety out. org (n. d. ) gang violence is certainly a cause for concern: Gang members are responsible for much of the serious violence in the United States. Teens that are gang members are much more likely than other teens to commit serious and violent crimes. For example, a survey in Denver found that while only 14% of teens were gang members, they were responsible for committing 89% of the serious violent crimes. (n. p. ) Many researchers have come to the conclusion that gangs necessarily cause violence and deviant behavior.
As a matter of policy then, it seems clear that the solution of a number of social ills is to break up, disrupt, or prevent the formations of gangs (Battin-Pearson, et al. , 1998). Yet, is this the solution? As George Thomas (2008) states, “The problem is complex, so the solutions cannot be complex” (p. 88). So what is the solution? According to the U. S. Department of Education (n. d. ), all factors of age, race, and socioeconomic background must be taken into consideration.