Youth Gangs How Police Can Stop the Violence Term Paper

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Youth Gangs, How Police Can Stop the Violence

Youth gangs appeared in New York City and Philadelphia at the end of the American Revolution and their numbers and violence correspond to peak levels of immigration and population shifts that occurred in the 1800's, 1920's, 1960's and the late 1990's (Johnson pp). Embedded in American culture, gangs have been and still are romanticized in movies while rap-music artists imitate their dress and jargon (Johnson pp). However, due to the growing numbers in membership and globalization, youth gangs have become a public security threat that communities are now recognizing that must be addressed (Johnson pp)

Once believed to be an inner-city problem, gang violence has spread throughout communities in the United States (Youth2 pp). The majority of youth gang member are between the ages of twelve and twenty-four, with the average age about seventeen to eighteen years (Youth2 pp). Approximately half of all youth gang members are eighteen years or older, and thus, are much more likely to become involved in serious and violent crimes than the younger gang members (Youth2 pp). For many teens, gang membership is a brief phase, and according to three studies, about one-half to two-thirds of youth gang members leave the gang by the end of the one-year mark (Youth2 pp).

Although gangs have been a problem in Los Angeles for years, and account for roughly half of the city's murders, gangs are now responsible for 41% of the homicides in Omaha, Nebraska (Youth3 pp). In Wichita, Kansas, drive-by shootings rose 3,000% from 1991 to 1993, and today Oklahoma City is home to more than eighty separate gangs (Youth3 pp). In Rhode Island, only 15% of teens surveyed said that they did not have gang member in their schools (Crowther pp).

Since 1980, the United States has witnessed a rapid proliferation of youth gangs (Youth pp). According to a 1998 Juvenile Justice Bulletin, there were roughly 286 gang jurisdictions with some 2,000 gangs and approximately 100,000 gang members in 1980 (Youth pp). By 1996, there were some 4,800 jurisdictions with more than 31,000 gangs and an estimated 846,000 gang members (Youth pp). In an eleven-city survey of eighth graders, researchers found than nine percent were currently gang members, while seventeen percent stated they had belonged to a gang at some point in their lives (Youth pp). Other studies show similar percentages and also indicated that gang members were responsible for a large proportion of violent offenses (Youth pp). The Rochester site of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention funded Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency, found that gang members self-reported committing 68% of all violent offenses, and the Denver site found youth gang members self-reported committing 89% of all serious violent offenses (Youth pp). In yet another study, supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and several other agencies and organizations, youth gang members in Seattle self-reported involvement in 85% of robberies committed (Youth pp).

The Seattle study found gang member committed 58% of general delinquent acts, 51% of minor assaults, 54% of felony thefts, 53% of minor thefts, 62% of drug-trafficking offenses, and more than 59% of property offenses (Youth1 pp). The Denver gangs committed 43% of drug sales and 55% of all street offenses, while the Rochester gangs committed 70% of drug sales, 68% of all property offenses and 86% of all serious delinquencies (Youth1 pp). One 1996 study estimated that gang members accounted for approximately 600,000 crimes in 1993 (Youth1 pp). Gang members are responsible for serious and violent offenses at a rate several times higher than non-gang adolescents (Youth1 pp). In Denver, gangs committed roughly three times as many serious and violent offenses as non-gang youth, in Rochester gangs were seven times more likely, and in Seattle, youth gangs were five times more likely than non-gang youth to commit serious and violent offenses (Youth1 pp).

According to the Juvenile Justice Bulletin, "gangs are no longer just at the rowdy end of the continuum of local adolescent groups, they are now really outside the continuum" (Youth1 pp). Gang norms are an important factor in the elevated level of violence in gang… [END OF PREVIEW]

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