Why Teens and Preteens Join Street Gangs
For many of today’s youth, street gangs represent the way in which adolescent frustration, searching, and rebellion are expressed. In a recent nationwide survey of street gang involved youth, seventy percent acknowledged that they were active prior to the age of fourteen. Commonly cited reasons include:
- Surrogate Family. Perception that affection, affirmation, and/or understanding are lacking at home. Street gangs provide structure and camaraderie, a tremendous sense of bonding and "family".
- Support. A place to turn in times of need and crisis.
- Failing at life’s challenges. Able to experience success in the street gang versus failure in other areas of life, e.g., school, peer relationships, sports, etc.
- Identity, Recognition and Respect. Compensate for social/personality deficits or lack of self-esteem; gain power.
- Protection. “Do or be done to” by other street gangs/individuals.
- Intimidation or peer pressure. Pressured by friends to join.
- Money. Bleak employment prospects, lack of legal alternatives.
Glamour. Media images have made street gang lifestyle appealing.
- Family History. Siblings, parents, grandparents are/were in street gangs.
- Role Models. Who’s got the reputation, money, etc. Who are the youth’s media role models?
- Excitement. More interesting and exciting than other options.
You can get involved by simply reporting illegal activities you may see. Contact the Hamilton Police Service at 905-546-4925, Crime Stoppers at 905-522-TIPS or the graffiti hotline at 905-546-4723. Help give the message that street gangs will NOT be tolerated in your community.