Gang Prevention Term Paper

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¶ … Stanley "Tookie" Williams' Gang Prevention Books on Pre-Adolescent Boys

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One of the biggest problems facing American society today is gang violence committed by youthful offenders. Furthermore, studies have shown time and again that such activity remains on the increase, and even small towns, communities and suburbs in the United States are being affected by gang activity. The implications of this persistent presence of violence in American society has had a profound effect on the nation's youth as well, with many young people being drawn to this lifestyle as the only perceived viable career path available to them, while others may be attracted by the glamorized "gangsta" lifestyle popularized in today's music. Young people may commit acts of violence in an effort to emulate gang members or in an attempt to gain membership, with such acts of violence being almost always directed at the most helpless members of a population. Equally important has been the impact of gangs on the young people who elect not to become gang members, since these students may be intimidated by existing gang members or become increasingly fearful that gang-related violence will affect them personally at some point during their lives. The costs associated with gang violence are enormous, and include increased costs for healthcare, security in educational settings and the costs associated with incarceration for those who become subject to the criminal justice system. One author who has experienced these adverse effects first-hand is Stanley Williams, a Nobel laureate nominee and author of a series of eight readers aimed at urban youth on how to avoid becoming involved with gang activity. The purpose of this study was to determine how young people and their teachers perceived these readers and their impact on their beliefs about gangs and people who join them. A critical review of the relevant literature and an analysis of the results of interviews with six students and teachers are used for this purpose. A summary of the research, salient conclusions and recommendations are provided in the concluding chapter.

Impact of Stanley "Tookie" Williams' Gang Prevention Books on Pre-Adolescent Boys

Term Paper on Gang Prevention Assignment

Dissertation Proposal

CHAPTER I: The Problem


Problem Background

Literature Review

Purpose of the Study

Research Questions



Importance of the Study



Risk Factors for Gang Involvement

Anti-Social Behavior

Protective Factors from Gang Involvement

Approaches to Prevention and Intervention

Types of Prevention Strategies

Prevention Approaches using Literature


CHAPTER III: Methodology


Research Questions




Assumptions or Limitations


Data Analysis



CHAPTER V: Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations




Appendix a Children's Parental Permission Form

Appendix B

Request for Parental Involvement

Appendix C:

Request for Teacher Involvement

Appendix D:

Student Questionnaire

Appendix E:

Parent Questionnaire

Appendix F:

Teacher Questionnaire

Appendix G

Verbal Script for Students' Assent


CHAPTER I: The Problem


There has been a significant increase in gang activity throughout the United States in the past thirty years. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that in 1970, there was active gang involvement in less than half of the fifty states. As of 2004, each of the 50 states is reporting gang activity (Egley and Major, 2004). Though gangs are typically associated with urban areas, they are found in rural areas and small towns all across the United States (Triplet, 2004). The 2002 National Youth Gang Survey revealed that there are approximately 731,500 gang members and 21,500 gangs active in the United States (Egley and Major, 2004). Teenagers affiliated with a gang are responsible for committing 89% of the serious and violent crimes within their age bracket (Huizinga, 1998). Compared to the rest of the general population in America, members of gangs are sixty times more likely to die a violent death (Howell, 2003).

As of 2005, over 70% of the states in America have passed legislation specifically addressing gang related crime. The kinds of legislation enacted by these states have been primarily enhanced penalties and sentencing for criminal acts commonly associated with gang involvement. Depending on the state, these enhanced penalties can apply to anything from drive-by shootings and member recruitment, to graffiti (Institute for Intergovernmental Research, 2005).

Problem Background

In America, the emergence of gangs is traced by some back to the early days of immigration, when the white Europeans who migrated here found themselves poor, alienated, and struggling in crowded urban areas (Thrasher, 1927). Some have even suggested that gang involvement among European-Americans was a way for them to unite enough power to impact and then integrate into a larger society, though they concede it did not have the same effect for African-American youth (Adamson, 2000).

The onset of immigration caused the urban populations to soar, and population density to increase dramatically over a short period of time (Allender, 2001). Like immigrants today, survival was difficult. Death due to poverty and disease was common, and many men abandoned their families because life was easier for them on their own. Many poor immigrant children were left with only one parent or were homeless. There was no money to return to their native countries or any relatives nearby to help. Following the examples of their fathers, many boys turned to the street, still poor but without the responsibilities of family (Allender, 2001).

Immigrant children quickly realized that their safety necessitated forming groups. Like today, members of these early American gangs consisted of youth with the same ethnic and racial backgrounds, who grouped themselves together for protection, recreation, and financial profit (Thrasher, 1927). Without familial support or culturally meaningful social structures, these groups were not created from healthy models. Forced to adjust to a new society and customs, immigrant children simultaneously experienced discrimination due to their ethnicities, languages, traditions, and/or religions (Allender, 2001). From this era emerged groups of adolescents who regularly engaged in delinquent behaviors, and committed violent acts against rival groups (Curry and Decker, 2002).

The gangs in the 1960's, and their criminal activities, were influenced with the pervasiveness of inexpensive technology (Howell, 1998). They had more access to automobiles and guns, which allowed them to commit crimes that were more serious and to move further beyond their own neighborhoods. This was an important development as gang members were able to commit crimes against people who did not know them. Also during this time, young women were beginning to form gangs at rates previously unseen (Howell, 1998).

In the 1980s, there was another surge of youth gang involvement. Some suggest it was brought on by the popularity of gang culture's creativity in music and television, and the influence of the media (Curry and Decker, 2002). More likely, the music was a reflection of the growing anger and hostility in urban areas as Americans experienced another economic recession (Weatherburn, 1992). There is, based on research findings, a slight increase in aggression levels of children exposed to television violence (Eron, 1992). Nonetheless, the combination of difficult economic times and the pervasive images of idealized violence, in all probability, influenced how young people viewed and valued gangs.

Literature Review

Sociologists have been evaluating youth gangs for nearly eighty years and from the beginning, they have found the relationship of poverty and economic uncertainty associated with gang involvement. Thrasher (1927) was the first sociologist to conduct formal research on gangs and for this reason, he is regarded as the pioneer of urban gang studies. Thrasher surveyed 1,313 gangs throughout Chicago during the 1920's and concluded that gangs evolved in response to the social stressors that were commonly experienced in poor and working class neighborhoods (Rosenthal, 2000; Thrasher, 1927).

In 1975, Miller conducted and published the first national study of gangs in the United States. His research helped to provide selected base-line data for future studies. Three longitudinal studies were conducted between 1987 and 2004 in an attempt to better understand delinquent behavior in gang populations (Thornberry, Huizinga, and Loeber, 2004). The Denver Youth Survey, the Pittsburgh Youth Study, and the Rochester Youth Development Study collected research within high-risk neighborhoods and provided data on delinquent behavior in gangs (Thornberry, Huizinga and Loeber, 2004). The results provided key information on the causes and precursors to gang membership and insight on how to combat juvenile crime (Hill, Lui, and Hawkins, 2001).

The three studies monitored the progression of over 4,000 participants and had a sample retention rate of 85% at each site (Browning, Huizinga, Loeber, and Thornberry, 1999). All of the projects used identical core measures to ensure that cross-site comparisons of differences and similarities were possible (Browning et al.). This is thought to be the largest shared measurement approach in regards to evaluating juvenile delinquency (Browning et al.). The Denver, Pittsburgh, and Rochester Youth Studies concentrated on the patterns of youth delinquency. The three main topics evaluated were childhood aggression, the developmental pathways to delinquency, and the overlap of problem behaviors (Thornberry, Huizinga and Loeber, 2004). The results of their research helped to identify the risk factors that may predispose youth to become involved in delinquent behavior and/or gangs.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Gang Prevention."  September 11, 2006.  Accessed September 21, 2020.