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to not really get why kids join gangs?

(69 Posts)
HidinginaHardHat Wed 22-Jun-11 21:39:28

The stereotype appears to be they join for a sense of belonging, get up to a lot of not very nice stuff and either end up in jail or dead. I realise this is a stereotype but is the sense of belonging really worth it?

AIBU to not get it?

expatinscotland Wed 22-Jun-11 21:45:06

Be glad you don't get it.

Many people who go into gangs, their entire families are in them. Gang life is family life; the only one they know.

For others, it's a means to avoid being chased, bullied or even killed because of the neighbourhood they live in.

For still others, it's a means of making a living.

Adair Wed 22-Jun-11 21:46:12

What expat said.

TattyDevine Wed 22-Jun-11 21:47:15

Teenagers often go Born Again Christian

(I'm not saying this is the same thing, at all - but many will not go on to become lifelong Christians)

Some will go on to sell Herbalife.

Its this sense of fellowship. Whatever form it takes.

They sort of need it at that age.

Tchootnika Wed 22-Jun-11 21:47:57

Exactly. For "sense of belonging", try substituting "being shit scared and finding security in numbers."

DontCallMePeanut Wed 22-Jun-11 21:48:48

YANBU. I don't get it either.

bubblecoral Wed 22-Jun-11 21:52:50

I don't really get it either, but that's because I get the things that a gang provides from my family and friends without having to join a gang. If it's a persons only chance of getting that sense of belonging because they don't get it from family then it starts to make sense.

It can seem like the safest thing to do, if your on your own in a rough area, you don't stand much chance, whereas if you have the protection of the rest of your gang, life probably seems much easier. I should imagine that there is also a sense of commeraderie (sp!) as well as belonging, and it's like having a ready made group of friends that will stick up for you on tap.

There's also the fact that crime does often pay. A young person will see criminal gang members with clothes, phones or whatever, and want some of that for themselves. When obtaining those things by other means equalls years of hard work and having to overcome quite a lot of barriers, joining a gang and doing it the 'easy' way, probably starts to seem like quite an attractive option.

animula Wed 22-Jun-11 21:54:04

with expat and Tchootnika.

One of ds' little pals was inducted into a "family" gang at primary - he just followed his big brother. Lots of others join around secondary school age because they are unavoidable for some children.

wimpybar Wed 22-Jun-11 21:54:55

are you watching the real a and e?

troisgarcons Wed 22-Jun-11 21:55:36

Sadly, 'gangs' are usually boys, from single mothers with no father figure. Mum usually (not always ) has a succession of blokes resulting in a myriad of half siblings. Iliteracy is common. As is lack of parental care.

'gangs' provide a family environment and a sense of belonging to group.

Subsitute 'gang' for 'army' and see why the majority of our armed forces are from single parent, disaffected backgrounds. It provides the same structure and code of conduct.

HidinginaHardHat Wed 22-Jun-11 21:55:52

Might be wimpybar blush

Interesting to see the responses though smile

Tortu Wed 22-Jun-11 22:00:33

Love that you don't get it. How lucky for you!

Work in a school where we have to place separate gangs on different halves of the year so that they don't meet each other.

Heartbreaking, really, at this time of the year when they know they're going to have 6 weeks without anything to do. They really are just kids and, although some of them (we have gang tattoos here and, what I thought were permanant gold teeth caps when I first arrived, but have since learnt you can remove them) look quite scary at first, they're individuals and their lives are pretty rubbish.

Basically, you're looking at kids whose parents either don't care for them or who can't (because there are too many kids/ mental health issues/ have to work), so they're out on the streets all day in really poor areas which are almost a ghetto. I live only a mile from school, but never see any of my students as they don't leave their poor area of inner London.

The main problem is that the kids' aspirations are so unbelievably low that they can't visualise anything other than what they know- and no, they don't tend to have access to a tv, so that's no help. Better than trying to provide them with an education the purpose of which they don't understand (what is university and why would they want to go?), would be to give them a week staying in a middle class house in London where they might have a garden and their own room.

HidinginaHardHat Wed 22-Jun-11 22:03:16

sad i feel really terribly middle class by posting this thread (even though i'm not!) it's horrible and heartbreaking that they feel the need to throw their lives away in this manner

Tortu Wed 22-Jun-11 22:03:26

Just want to add (on a slightly unrelated issue) how amazing the police are. Don't quite know their policy, but have noticed that they have a big presence at school at the moment (coming up to the summer holidays). They always have an officer there, but at the moment there are several who are clearly making an effort to get to know the kids and interact with them.

I think that is highly commendable and probably prevents a lot of crime, actually.

kalo12 Wed 22-Jun-11 22:04:37

i teach teens - they tell me you either have a rep - reputation or you are a victim, they don't really have much choice about being in a gang

wimpybar Wed 22-Jun-11 22:05:06

it was a particularly grim episode. i think it's hard to understand unless you live in an area where gangs are rife.

just a shame government doesn't seem to want to tackle it

MrsSchue Wed 22-Jun-11 22:06:55

Mainly because it's safer to be in than out.

HidinginaHardHat Wed 22-Jun-11 22:09:18

How is it safer being in than out?

Adair Wed 22-Jun-11 22:09:40

i feel i should point out that lots of children are not in the gangs too though even in 'gang' areas.

Tortu Wed 22-Jun-11 22:09:44

Government are tackling it. Think it's fair to say that Labour invested thousands (don't really want to think about it) of pounds in each of our gang kids and think it unlikely that the ConDems will do any different. We have several fantastic intervention groups (at least two of which seem to have been set up specifically to deal with the issue) and our behaviour team are excellent. Similarly, the police are in a lot at the moment.

However, until you change society, there is very little you can do.

Tchootnika Wed 22-Jun-11 22:10:00

I think you should be a bit circumspect about atributing gang membership to single parent families/lack of discipline. It's sometimes the case that kids are intimidated into joining gangs regardless of home circumstances - their safety outside their homes - on their way to school for example, seemingly being dependent on being part of a larger group. Sad and scary but true.

Adair Wed 22-Jun-11 22:15:12

Agree. Lots of stereotypes abounding, which actually is something I think is hard for many of us - let alone vulnerable teens- to challenge too.

wimpybar Wed 22-Jun-11 22:20:32

torfu they con-dems have cut lots of provisions aimed at children before they reach the gang stage. it needs to start when they are young.

Tortu Wed 22-Jun-11 22:23:24

Hmmm. Seriously, I work with loads of kids who are in gangs. It's not like America (ok, I don't really know what it's like in America- but I know what it's like in the films), but here is more about friendship and family. It doesn't seem to be about intimidation but more about a substitute extended family i.e. lots of the kids are cousins/ friends of the family and look out for each other because the parents can't.

I've actually had older gang members turn up at parents' evenings, so there is a real sense of responsibility.

The problems come with gang rivalry and when a member imagines that a rival gang member has slighted them.

However, I'll say again that they are just children. I've confiscated a knife before- would have been terrified to do so initially, but when I got to know the kids, I was able to break up a fight by expressing my astonishment that one child had remembered to pack his knife for school, but forgotten to pack a pen for my earlier lesson.

And yeah, it isn't always the case that the parents are useless. Sometimes it's just that they are doing their best but are overwhelmed.

Tortu Wed 22-Jun-11 22:24:49

wimpybar, suspect (sob) that you may be right. TBH, it needs to start before kids get to school really. Getting rid of the surestart centres is not a good idea.

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