Example research essay topic: Study Of The Spreading Of Youth Gangs In North America – 927 words

Structural Characterisitics Members are typically
young teenage males of similar ethnic or racial
backgrounds (usually from disorganized families in
the inner-city). Loyalty and adherence to a strict
gang code (i.e., the gang is more important than
anything) is mandatory. Cohesiveness among members
increases as recognition from society increases.
Loyalty and camaraderie are solidified by
participation in group activities that are often
antisocial, illegal, violent, and criminal. Goals,
identified roles, and responsibilities are clearly
established and defined (they are often unspoken
but are understood by all members). The chain of
command is hierarchical. Identification with a
local territory.

Recruitment is an ongoing
process, especially at school. Younger active
members (some as young as eight- or
nine-years-old). Evidence of ethnic and racial
crossover in multiethnic neighborhoods. An
insurgence of female gangs. Established cliques or
sets in suburban communities. Acquisition of large
sums of money from illegal drug markets and
prostitution.

Rampant use of drugs and alcohol.
Violent membership. Use of sophisticated
communications devices and automatic weapons. Employment of guerrilla warfare-like tactics.
Total disregard for human life as evinced by the
senseless deaths of innocent victims. Induction
into the Gang Members proceed through four
developmental stages in the evolutionary process:
the wannabe (one who wants to be a member) or the
gonnabe (one who is probably destined to be a
member), which is a more recent term for wannabe;
the peripheral (one who hangs around the gang, and
may or may not engage in activities); the
affiliate (an actual member also known as a “gang
banger”); and the hard-core (one who lives only
for the gang, is “down for the hood. The
activities of gang members determine their
position in the evolutionary process. For example,
members engage in minor gang activities, such as
hanging around, flashing gang signs, graffiti
writing and claiming territory, before they become
involved in serious hard-core illegal infractions,
such as assaults, drug trafficking, and murder.
Some recruiting practices bypass these simple
activities; in such cases, hard-core members
emerge overnight.

It is no secret that gangs and
their criminal activities have been increasing at
alarming rates in communities and on school
campuses nationwide. A comparison of data
collected in two studies demonstrates the increase
in gang membership in the U. S. over a ten-year
period. According to a study conducted by the U.S.
Department of Justice ( Needle & Stapleton,
1983), there were approximately 1,000 known gangs
with a combined membership of 50,000 operating in
the U.S. by the end of the 1970s.

In contrast, by
the end of the 1980s these numbers increased to
approximately 5,000 gangs with an estimated
membership of 250,000 (United States Department of
Justice, 1994). Both studies give several reasons
for this expansion, such as population growth,
urban sprawl, high unemployment, augmented
mobility of gang members, and new drug markets.
Whereas the major well-established gangs of the
1970s (and earlier) generally operated from bases
within their traditional neighborhoods (in highly
populated, urban, low-income, and racially
isolated areas), gangs of the 1980s were beginning
to expand their bases of operations across the
states (to less populated, suburban,
middle-income, and racially integrated areas).
Recent data on gangs reveal that they have become
part of all types of American and Canadian
neighborhoods, more so than at any other time in
history. A comparison of statistics in Los Angeles
County-often considered the gang capital of the
nation-provides a local perspective. In 1988, the
National School Safety Center reported that there
were 600 gangs in existence, with a membership
well over 70,000 in LA County alone. The LA County
Sheriff’s Department reported that there were
1,130 known gangs with approximately 150,000
members operating in LA in 1993. This pervasive
expansion gives new meaning to the term alarming
rates, and suggests that current efforts to curb
the gangs have been less than successful.

Impact
and Consequences of Gangs in Schools Students more
readily acknowledge the existence of gangs in
school than do adults. In 1991, the U. S.
Department of Justice conducted a nationwide
survey of students to ascertain certain facts
about school violence (Bastian & Taylor,
1991). This study reported that 15 percent of the
students stated that gangs were active on their
campus. Moreover, 16 percent indicated that they
had witnessed gang members engaging in threatening
acts against a teacher. Similarly, the California
Student Substance Use Survey, conducted by the
State of California (California State Office of
the Attorney General, 1994) revealed that an
average of 17 percent of students from grades 7 to
11 were involved in gangs at one time or another
during their life.

Although school officials
estimated a very small portion of their total
student body population to be gang affiliated,
they also indicated that responding to gang
activity required excessive amounts of time and
resources (Lal et al., 1993). Maintaining a safe
and secure school where gang activity is prevalent
requires special tactics. Some large school
districts have followed the lead of local, state,
and Federal agencies and formed task forces to
tackle the problem. District members believe that
collaborative efforts among law enforcement,
schools, families, churches, and social agencies
are fundamental to gang prevention programs. There
are benefits for the gang members staying in their
neighborhood schools. Lal (1991) reported that an
overwhelming majority of members wanted to stay in
school because they could congregate and discuss
their activities in a social arena, uphold their
reputation as an established gang, flaunt their
accouterments, display their strength of
membership, provide protection for their members,
intimidate other students, recruit potential
members, and sometimes engage in criminal or
violent acts.

But, of course, these benefits for
the gang have negative consequences for all
students, school personnel, school safety, and the
overall educational process..

Research essay sample on Study Of The Spreading Of Youth Gangs In North America