Peers & Delinquency: Juvenile Gangs & Groups
The following essay encompasses an article on peers and delinquency titled “Youth Violence: ‘I Want out of My Gang Family’”, and it has keen interest on juvenile gangs and groups. To this effect, the thesis will explore how the article supports the concepts of delinquency and juvenile gangs.
Juvenile gangs and groups make it requisite to discard norms learned from home in order to inculcate their new norms. Additionally, incumbent gang members teach the new members how to commit specific deviant acts. However, it is noteworthy to define a gang and use an excerpt to crystallize the concept of juvenile gangs and groups. The definition of a gang is a cluster of teenagers who mutually participate in delinquent deeds. The article titled “Youth Violence: ‘I Want out of My Gang Family’” highlights the fundamentals of juvenile gangs and groups. This article confirms the notion that delinquent peers have influence on behavior. The peers are either intensely liked or disliked. The teenager described in the article looked like a beautiful, well-dressed girl who seemed to listen and understand her problems at home (“Youth Violence”). The girl was the leader of their gang. This further confirms the idea that gang delinquency encompasses a distinct organization and discernible leadership. It also manifests division of labor, rituals, and rules. For instance, the article postulates that her self-esteem was boosted the more she “put in work” and she worked her way up the ranks (“Youth Violence”). Furthermore, the gang leader’s invitation was a mask for peer selection. It confirms the indication that gangs actively undertake peer selection. The oblivious teenager was alone, vulnerable and gullible. When the gang leader said “we are like real sisters,” the bait was set and she was inevitably reeled in (“Youth Violence”).
As articulated, the article references and confirms various concepts in chapter 9 such as peer selection, distinct leadership, and structure. A teenager came from a neighborhood characterized by Latino gang members who traveled in groups and collectively engaged in delinquent behavior. They had tattoos and an aura of superiority that appeared attractive. They did everything together, including going mundane tasks such as going to the store (Youth Violence”). The concept of co-offending becomes apparent but it is disguised as loyalty and a sense of belonging that was immediately appealing to the impressionable youth. Propelled by real or imagined issues at home, the teenage girl got drawn until finally she joined the gang. They instantly began her deviancy training, which is a reference to another term in chapter 9, by urging her to leave school and fight and drink alcohol in the morning. Three weeks into her initiation, she was tricked by people she thought were her family into getting drunk and having sex. The peer influence escalated to violent attacks where she stabbed someone, to a total alienation of her parents and childhood friends (“Youth Violence”). Verbatim, she claims, “their everyday lives revolved around fighting enemies and claiming more territory on the streets so everybody would know that we ran everything” (Youth Violence”). When she finally was incarcerated, she woke up from the illusion that her gang members had created. Her only real family was the people she had alienated. Alienation is a term of reference from chapter 9 that elaborates the genesis of juvenile gangs.
Ultimately, this is all a sad façade and a ploy designed to re-socialize unacceptable norms, for instance, carrying weapons and treat family, other gang members and society as outsiders, which is also a chapter 9 concept. As the article postulates, the gangs provide a false sense of belonging and loyalty. In the end, an impressionable youth loses their education, family, freedom, or life in exchange for a criminal record or in the worst case scenario – death.