Criminological Theories Of The Strain Theory

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The Bloods, the Crips, the Latin Kings, the snakeheads, MS-13, are only a few examples of the many gangs that exist in the United States. A gang is characterized as a group of at least three individuals who share common interests such as a specific territory, and frequently participate in criminal behavior. The term gang is broad because it groups together street gangs, motorcycle gangs, prison gangs, and other large organized groups that commit crimes.
Violence is a very common characteristic of street gangs, and gangs make up 45-90 percent of violent crimes in most areas (FBI, 2010). Respect, Reputation, and retaliation are the three R’s that lead to violence among street gangs (Pacheco, 2010, pg.33). Recently initiated gang
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One Criminological theory that tries to explain youth’s participation in gang activity is the Strain Theory. The Strain theory is a theory that argues that most people are law abiding unless under pressure of a strain (Riedel, 2011, pg.226). A strain could be anything that may stop an individual from being successful by legitimate means only. With that being said, when an individual cannot meet certain expectations through legitimate means they instead turn to illegitimate means or in this case criminal activity (Riedel, 2011, pg. 228). But how does this relate to youth and their involvement in gang activity? Although there isn’t a large amount of pressure on youth to gain monetary success there are other pressures that may lead them to gang activity. One example of a source of pressure that youth’s experience is acceptance among their peers. As a member of the youth community a major goal is to make friends, fit in and be accepted by other members of the youth community. If this is particularly hard for an individual of the youth community it could cause strain. A way for youth to deal with this strain is to join a gang where they will make friends, fit in and be accepted by the gang’s community. Another source of pressure youth may experience can come from the need for protection. If a youth is experiencing bullying or a…show more content…
The social bonding theory stated by Hirschi suggests that, weak social bonds to parents, schools, and other institutions of socialization lead to crime (Riedel, 2011, pg. 94). First, when it comes to the institution of family, youth are more likely to become involved with gang activity if they do not have a strong bond with their family. For example youth growing up with only one parent, grandparents, or foster parents as opposed to a two parent home are more likely to become offenders (Riedel, 2011, pg.94). When applying this to youth’s involvement in gang activity, if the social bond to a youth’s family is weak this may result in looking for that family type bond from a street gang and its members. Secondly, looking at the institution of school and education, if the bond to the institution of family is weak then most likely the bond to the institution of education is going to be weak as well. If the social bond to education is weak the youth does not take school seriously, and instead will turn to activities that could end up getting them in trouble with the
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