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Gangs - Safety in Numbers?

Gang memeber. Photo.
A gang is a group of people who are organized and share a common identity defined in opposition to mainstream norms. The modern usage of the term gang, often refers to a loosely organized group that uses violence to exercise control over a territory.

Why do young people join gangs?

Blood Nose
Blood Nose

Teenagers are recruited into criminal networks as useful tools to the gang leaders. These adolescents are typically alienated and vulnerable, and seek attention and recognition. This makes them an easy target for recruiters who often are older and in a position of authority to these juveniles. Through the manipulative use of group psychology like recognition, sympathy and a sense of belonging, gangs make young people unwitting victims and useful tools of organized crime.

Gangs in the United States

The street gangs in the US date back to the early 1800s. The reason for the increase in gang culture is attributed to a variety of reasons. Some have argued that increasing gang activity is directly related to decreases in adult mentors, school failures and decreases in after-school programs. The gang culture phenomenon is very complex in the US, reaching from prison gangs to a hip hop celebrity gimmick. The problem of street gangs among adolescents is not given the same attention in the media.

Gangs in the United Kingdom

The definition of the word gang in common British English is somewhat ambiguous but it is generally used to describe the same phenomenon as in American English. The problem is mainly a big city phenomenon in Britain. Different parts of the cities are affected in a varying degree, according to demographic variables like economic income, level of education and so on. A detailed report from 2001 into gangs in London conducted by the Home Office estimated that 2% of 10-19 year olds were involved in gangs. The trend in recent years has been an increase in gun violence among very young teenagers.

George about Violence

Many American youngsters grow up in an environment where crime and violence are parts of an every-day life. In certain urban neighbourhoods social disorder and crime follow in the wake of unemployment and poverty. Listen carefully to what George tells you about losing friends in shootings and going to funerals. He is one of many American teens who grow up in unsafe surroundings and must be prepared for violent and tragic incidents.

George Talking about Violence

George Talking about Violence
  1. How does George describe the situation in his neighbourhood?
  2. Which two cities does he mention, and why?
  3. How do the unsafe surroundings influence his everyday life?
  4. Why does he mention his uncle?


Cultural Aspects

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