Gangs and Juvenile Delinquency in the Hispanic Culture

Gangs and Juvenile Delinquency in the Hispanic Culture Abstract: There has been a rise in gang violence among the youth across the nation. There are also cruel and violent tendencies that the youth that are a part of this group. It is important to understand reasons why Hispanic youth are turning toward gangs. The influx of gang activity in the neighborhoods and schools has adversely affected the level of violence seen in communities across the nation. The rise in the Latino population in many urban areas has also seen a rise in Hispanic gang activity.

This topic is interesting because of the type of work the writer is involved with. The writer is working with Hispanic juveniles and has personally seen the influence the gang has had in the community and among the youth. Violent tendencies that gangs have strain on the community. This paper will explore the influence of gangs in the Hispanic community and the influence the gangs have among the juvenile population. From the day a baby is born human beings are looking and longing for a safe, comfortable environment.

According to Erik Erikson human beings must go through eight stages of development to have a successful and for filling life. According to the stages one must be able to build on each stage to be successful in the next stage. The challenges of stages not successfully completed may be expected to reappear as problems in the future. According to Erik Erikson, the major developmental task in infancy is to learn whether or not other people, especially primary caregivers, regularly satisfy basic needs.

If caregivers are consistent sources of food, comfort, and affection, an infant learns trust. On the other hand if they are neglectful, or perhaps even abusive, the infant instead learns mistrust that the world is in an undependable, unpredictable, and possibly dangerous place. In analyzing the theories of Erikson one must ask that question about the youth of today and the increase of gangs and gang activity. The influx of gang activity in the neighborhoods and schools has adversely affected the level of violence seen in communities across the nation.

The rise in the Latino population in many urban areas has also seen a rise in Hispanic gang activity. This topic is interesting because of the type of work the writer is involved with. The writer is working with Hispanic juveniles and has personally seen the influence the gang has had in the community and among the youth. Violent tendencies that gangs have strain on the community. This paper will explore the influence of gangs in the Hispanic community and the influence the gangs have among the juvenile population.

Every group of people has a history and the Hispanic people have long rich history that includes warriors, inventors, explores and gangs. Hispanic gangs have a history embedded in the pre-war era, but came to fulfillment during the nineteen fifties and nineteen sixties. Their membership includes a variety of Mexican and Latin American immigrants as well as Hispanic Americans. The gangs fight with each other as well as other groups for territory and control, lately their activities and influence have stretched across international lines, leading to major conflict with civilian and federal border patrols.

Contemporary Hispanic gangs originated as Pachucos during the nineteen thirties is a Hispanic a Mexican American man who wears flashy clothes, tends to be rebellious, and sometimes belongs to a local gang (dated slang). They established themselves as a separate subculture; the Pachucos generally wore “zoot” suits and spoke a specific dialect known as Calo. Many people from this group are descendents from the city of El Paso, Texas. With the blooming youth culture of the nineteen fifties, Hispanic gangs began to become more organized.

The oldest organized Hispanic street gang in the country was established in the nineteen forties in Chicago there are called the Latin Kings. Latin Kings are heavily comprised of Puerto Rican immigrants. Latin Kings have built a network of nearly forty-five thousand members in thirty-eight states. The 18th Street Gang is one of the largest Hispanic gangs in the country. It was established in Los Angeles in nineteen fifty-nine. This organization has become one of the most well known and most violent organizations in the country.

They have a nationwide membership of nearly thirty thousand. The Mexican Mafia was created in the late nineteen fifties and has established a strong and influential position with the prison system of the United States. They were originally organized to provide protection for Hispanic prisoners but have developed into a nationwide force that is feared and respected. Other notable street and prison gangs include the Latin Disciples, the Spanish Cobras, the Latin Eagles, the Satan Disciples and a rising body known as MS-13.

With the rise in illegal immigration into the United States from Mexico and other Latin American countries, the numbers of Hispanic gang members has swelled in the early twenty-first century. Their membership is the fastest growing in the country, both on the street and in prisons. The latest figures show that up to sixty percent of Hispanic gang members are illegal. In addition, the establishment of relations between gangs operating outside the United States has created an international network that specializes in guns and drugs, murder and robbery with ties to paramilitary operations.

In Los Angeles County, California alone, there are currently six hundred twenty five documented Latino gangs with a gang membership of over eighty three thousand. Demographics show a gang member age average of fifteen with a range of eight to twenty-two years old. Other counties within California and nationwide in cities like Fairfax, Virginia, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have seen increases in Latino youth gangs by as much as fifteen percent over the last year. The Hispanic community is comprised of about eleven present of the U.

S. population, including 3. 6 million residing in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Over the past thirty years, the Hispanic population has exhibited tremendous growth in the U. S. Approximately thirty-one million individuals are identified as Hispanics. The U. S. Hispanic population was projected to become the largest minority group by 2006. Seventy percent of the Hispanic population is concentrated in four states California, Texas, New York, and Florida. These also the states that have biggest prevalent of Hispanic gang activity.

Mexicans are the largest ethnic subdivision of Hispanics in the United States, comprising about 63. 3 percent, followed by central and South American with 14. 4 percent, Puerto Rican 10. 6 present, Cuban 4. 2 present and other Hispanics 7. 4 percent. The Hispanic family is a close-knit group and the most important social unit. And can extend beyond the nuclear family. The Hispanic “family unit” includes not only parents and children but also extended family. In most Hispanic families, the father is the head of the family, and the mother is responsible for the home.

Individuals within a family have a moral responsibility to aid other members of the family experiencing financial problems, unemployment, poor health conditions, and other life issues. Families often gather together to celebrate holidays, birthdays, baptisms, first communions, graduations, and weddings. Hispanic families instill in their children the importance of honor, good manners, and respect for authority and the elderly. Preserving the Spanish language within the family is a common practice in most Hispanic homes.

The breakdown of this family unit has contributed to a surge of youth gang membership. Hispanic women have the highest unmarried birthrate in the country. It is over three times that of whites and Asians, and nearly one and a half times that of black women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Every one thousand unmarried Hispanic women bore ninety-two children in 2003, compared with twenty-eight children for every one thousand unmarried white women, twenty-two for every one thousand unmarried Asian women, and sixty-six for every one thousand unmarried black women.

Forty-five percent of all Hispanic births occur outside of marriage, compared with twenty-four percent of white births and fifteen percent of Asian births. The Hispanic population is expected to triple over the next few decades. By 2050, the Latino population will have tripled the Census Bureau projects. One in four Americans will be Hispanic by mid-century, twice the current ratio. In states such as California and Texas, Hispanics will be in the clear majority. Nationally, whites will dropped from near seventy percent of the total population in 2000.

It is projected that by 2050 that the white population will be just half. Hispanics will account for forty percent of the nation’s added population over the next two decades, the Pew Hispanic Center reports. Many experts may argue that the lack of family structure leads to and an impoverished environment attracts Hispanic youth to the gang life style because it is a net work of family that offers acceptance, protection, and trust. This is the place where youth feel comfort and affection that is not a part of the life they live in the community, at school, or home.

Families that have active gang-members often differ in the conditions of quality of family interaction, supervision and discipline, family affection patterns, and maternal attitudes toward males. Families that do not have active gang members are more likely to go out together, are more likely to be consistent in their discipline, and are more likely to display their feelings openly in the family. Many time parents that are working as the sole provider for their families have to leave their children alone in order to provide a shelter and food.

The mothers of gang members described their husbands or fathers of their children as rarely involved in the family’s activities. They also had more negative attitudes toward the male fingers in their lives (Adler,Ovando, ; Hocevar, 1984). The gang member is not the only one affected when he or she starts a life in a gang. The youth puts everyone around him or her in danger, including the immediate family, friends and relatives that may be visiting. Research suggests that many gang members come from homes that are male dominated households or one-parent households.

Many of these youth are from families that are female headed. In the Hispanic community this affects a lot of people because the community is usually very tight nit. The lack of parental males has affected the home and leaves today’s youth searching for guidance and acceptance from “male” roll modals. Many of these youths have been physically abused by this male adult and also have witnessed or been the victim of abuse in their homes. Functional homes do not have as many problems with their children becoming gang members.

Gangs are appealing to those youth who often have unpleasant home lives. There is often emotional pain involved in most gang-members pasts. These youth experience intense feelings of isolation within their families, culture, school, community and church. Many gang members have feelings of abandonment and betrayal they turn to the gang for validation and acceptance. These young people are looking for the same elements of a functional family, trust, acceptance, love and protection. The youth in Hispanic gangs are often involved in extreme violence. Many Hispanic gangs have long held rivalries.

The Latin Kings have been in conflict with the Spanish Cobras and the Satan Disciples as well as many African American gangs. The conflict has become even more intense since the establishment of the Folk Nation and the People Nation, for all intents and purposes creating a system of alliances in which the gang community operates. One of the most important developments with Hispanic gangs is the influx of their ranks into the U. S. military. Many gang members have enlisted in order to have increased access to smuggle weapons and attain combat training for use in gang conflicts. The effect of youth gangs on youth violence can be immense.

Many aspects of gang membership are associated with violent activity and the effect is that youths who participate in gang activity may be more likely to encounter violence. The presence of youth gangs within a community can lead to greater amounts of violence within the community. Gang members, by nature of their gang affiliations, understand that committing acts of violence come with gang membership. According to a 1999 report from the U. S. Department of Justice, violence within gangs can be considered “a way of life;” gang members are often s required to violent acts during heir initiation into the gang and are often required to commit more acts of violence to prove their loyalty to the gang. Gang members may also encounter violence from other gangs and can be required to retaliate with violence toward rival gang members. The more violent a gang member is the more respect they gain with I the organizations and the higher the rank of the gang member. Modern youth gangs and the often unstoppable presence of drugs often lead to violent activity among the youth who either use or sell drugs.

The widespread presence of drugs within and from gang members, provide youth the opportunities to experiment with a verity of highly addictive drugs. The effects of drugs like alcohol, methamphetamines and crack cocaine can induce violent behavior. Youths who abuse drugs may turn to violent activity in order to support their addictions. They commit violent acts against citizens in the community and family members. Youth who participate in gang activity and the trafficking of drugs many times encounter violence from rival gangs.

The gangs have conflict over the territories of drug sales. This type of violence among gangs is known as “turf wars” and is considered systemic violence where the violent activity of some gangs stems from the desire to protect or expand their drug market. The trafficking and selling of illegal drugs often time provides the gang with the finances to buy weapons and support the needs of gang members. The presence of and access to weapons throughout youth gangs can escalate the effects on youth violence and in turn may result in a greater degree of violence.

Throughout the last half century gangs have equipped themselves with more deadly weapons, going from brass knuckles in the past to automatic guns and heavy artillery using by many police departments. A study of gangs in St. Louis reported that eighty-one percent of gang members carry guns and two-thirds of these youth admitted to using a gun at least once. Thus, the presence of youth gangs and their association with weapons possibly will result in more lethal forms of violence among youths. Homicides by gang members are more likely to take place in public settings primarily on the street, and in drive by shootings.

Gang homicides are three times more likely than non-gang homicides to involve fear of revenge. Unlike other homicides, gang homicides change from one ethnic group to another at any given point in time and in different community areas within the same city. Gang homicide trends are also characterized by periodic spurts, peaking, retreating to higher plateaus than before, and then surging upward again. Gang violence and gang involvement among youth is on the rise globally. Neighborhoods and communities are being held hostage by the gangs that control the streets in the communities.

If progress is to be made, the various sectors of society need to establish guiding principles on how to prevent and intervene in youth gang involvement. These discussions need to occur within and across the sectors to build political will and community strategies to protect youth from gangs and to coordinate strategies to counter gangs. Policymakers and communities must come together and address the gang issues within the community. Communities must be able to recognize the need for gang prevention programs so youth have a safe and positive environment to grow and thrive in a positive way.

They can invest in families and communities by supporting efforts to prevent gang involvement and provide positive alternatives for youth who might otherwise turn to gangs. The police can also contribute to prevention of youth gang involvement. Stereotyping of Latino youth as gang members and the “tough cop” style are perceived in the community as counterproductive approaches that hamper effective police interaction with youth. Training in diversity and communication are needed so that the police can become role models who develop relationships of understanding and mutual respect with the Latino community among the youth.

The anti-gang rules and resistance skills taught by youth centers offer youth both a structure and methods for avoiding the pull of gangs. Given the circumstances of overextended parents and schools, nonprofit organizations geared to youth are essential. The adults in them are skilled at relating to youth. Youth workers understand how to communicate constructively with youth, so that youth can open up to them and benefit from the guidance of mature, nonjudgmental adults. References Adler, P. ,Ovando, C. ; Hocevar, D. (1984).

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