Across the United States and Europe, suburban gangs are growing as never before,
estimations that in a typical inner city American community of 50,000 or more, there are
200 to 500 gang members. Some even larger organization called super gangs, which have more
than 1,000 members spread over several states, have been known to operate in small town
America. You cant say that any community is insulated from this activity," There's no restriction
on where gang members
can live. Gang members living in the suburbs share traits with recruits
in the cities, and many of those factors have been exacerbated by tough economic times, The list
of factors include divorce, separation, physical abuse, sexual abuse and having a parent with "a
severe dysfunction," situations that can be found anywhere. The factor that can push a child over
the top and into a gang is a "missing protector," someone the youth can count on in emergencies,
"If you come from an at-risk home, and you don't feel you have someone to turn to in a crisis,
there are three things these kids are looking for: a mask to deal with their pain, a distraction
device to divert them from what they're experiencing or an overpowering device to overpower
that's hurting them," A gang, can provide all three.
Of 64 million youths in the United States, there are an estimated 40 million youth meet at
least one of his risk criteria, although both "at-risk" traits do not automatically translate into gang
activity. They simply create a fertile ground, in cities, rural areas and suburbs
Gang growth in the suburbs occurs in one of three ways, Sometimes established gangs
move into new communities to expand their drug dealing through new recruits. Other times,
parents send their troubled children to live with families in the suburbs and, instead of curing the
problem, the gang members will build up a new crew in their new homes, often exaggerating
their rank and reputation.
Then there are what "teenage mutant gangs," groups of individuals who coalesce on their own.
They sometimes imitate big-city gangs, he said, but often make up their own rules.
"A lot of the people in the business call them 'wannabes,' or imitators." It doesn't matter how
much money a kid's have in thier pockets. If there's not positive activities for a young person to
pursue, they'll follow the negative route. Or, you have parents who are working full-time jobs but
don't realize the impact on their child. In some cases the youth feel abandoned and angry, and in
other situations they simply do whatever they want with no daytime supervision.
gangs tend to sell different drugs-such as Ecstasy, as opposed to crack-cocaine
offered in the cities-and begin with lower levels of violence, But as drug trade grows, so do the
levels of conflict. While suburban gangs tend to be less structured, allowing law enforcement to
sometimes dismiss their threat, suburban gangs can be more dangerous because of their desire to
prove themselves as hardcore.
Gangs offer alternatives to disillusioned youths, allowing them to come together like a
surrogate family. Kids that get into gangs are seeking identity and recognition. a gang expert
from Little Rock, Ark., who helped create the HBO documentary "Bangin' in Little Rock" and
speaks on gangs around the country. Said that Members of what he calls the "5H Club"-hopeless,
helpless, hugless, hungry and homeless-are the youths most likely to join a gang, regardless of
race, economic situation or setting. Gangs offer young people a chance to feel accepted and bond
with others like them.
December 16, 2002
Describe how Urban Gang infiltrate suburban areas. What role do local schools play in the saturation of communities by gang?