The Effects of Gangs

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The Effects of Gangs

What is a gang? According to Steven Sachs, a probation officer since 1978, it is "a structured, cohesive group of individuals, usually between the ages of eleven and twenty-five, who generally operate under some form of leadership while claiming a territory or turf," (Sachs XV). Distinctive clothing, the use of special street names, language, symbols and signs, and the committing of organized and spontaneous criminal acts describe some of the characteristics of a gang. Gang members can be male or female, but they are most often male. Jeffery Fagan and Joan Moore, researchers who primarily use self-reports and observations in the field, estimate that female participation in gangs may be as high as 33 percent. In the first national survey that was conducted by Walter Miller in 1975, he estimated that 48 percent of gang members in the six largest cities in the United States were black, 36 percent Hispanic, 9 percent white, and 7 percent Asian. A few years later, in a more extensive survey in nine of the largest cities, Miller found that 44 percent of all gang members were Hispanic, 43 percent black, 9 percent white, 4 percent Asian. Based on these statistics, he speculated that illegal Hispanic immigrants may have contributed to the increasing number of gangs in California (Kinnear 76). Gangs are often rooted in the historical experience of discrimination and economic struggle. White gangs exist mainly to promote and act on racist beliefs, such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Skinheads. Black gangs, Blood and CRIP, formed mainly for protection from other gangs. Hispanic gangs like Latin Kings and Sureno are typically concerned with the self-respect and integrity of their neighborhood. Asian gangs including Chinese and Korean are perhaps more organized than the Hispanic or Black gangs and have been associated with gambling, prostitution, and narcotics on a more sophisticated and profitable level than other types of gangs. They are also more mobile (Landre, Miller, Porter 4). As a result of gangs, increased use and dealing of drugs, a person's sense of belonging to a gang, and gang related crimes have had negative effects on society.

Many of the images of gangs, based primarily on media reports, include the use of alcohol and drugs. People tend to believe that gangs sell drugs to make extra money or even that many of them are structured as mini-corporations and are heavily involved in the drug trade.

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