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Evolution of Gangs in America 1890s 1920s 1960s 1980s and beyond Common issues: (1) immigration, (2) economic transitions, (3) focus on minority populations,

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Presentation on theme: "Evolution of Gangs in America 1890s 1920s 1960s 1980s and beyond Common issues: (1) immigration, (2) economic transitions, (3) focus on minority populations,"— Presentation transcript:

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2 Evolution of Gangs in America 1890s 1920s 1960s 1980s and beyond Common issues: (1) immigration, (2) economic transitions, (3) focus on minority populations, and (4) rapid population change.

3 Elements of a Gang Definition Group characteristics. Symbols of membership. Persistence of membership. Self-identification. Criminal involvement.

4 Recognizing Gangs Sources of Gangs. Troubled Individuals? Young Criminals? Disrupted or ineffective social systems? Sources of Knowledge about Gangs. The case of the St. Louis Task Force and the media. The Social Process of Responding to Gangs. Denial Identification Over-identification

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6 Number of Gang Cities by Year. Similar growth in number of gangs (28,000) and members (850,000 by 2000).

7 Characteristics of Gang Members

8 Gender of U.S. Gang Members Data Sources: NYGC 1996 Survey, Esbensen & Winfree (1998) Survey DataLaw Enforcement Data FemaleMale

9 15 & OverUnder 15 Age of U.S. Gang Members Survey DataLaw Enforcement Data Data Sources: NYGC 1996 Survey, Esbensen & Winfree (1998)

10 WhiteOther Ethnicity of U.S. Gang Members Survey DataLaw Enforcement Data Data Sources: NYGC 1996 Survey, Esbensen & Winfree (1998)

11 Characteristics of Gang Behavior Homicide and Hangin out

12 THREAT From Outside/Rival Gang Escalates Violence and Weapons Compels Neighborhood Young People to Join The Gang From Neighborhood Gang Symbolic Benefits (power, prestige, thrills) Disrupts Socializing Power of Social Institutions (family, school, labor market) Instrumental Benefits ( drug sales, property crime, protection) Social Aspects of Membership (belonging, hanging out, cohesion)

13 Self-Reported Gang Status & Juvenile Court Records 1997 % with Status Offense NoneInvolvedMember % with Delinquency Referral 11%23% 18%44%

14 70%34% Gang Status & Self-Reported Involvement in Violence St. Louis STG Study. % Used Violence NoneInvolvedMember % Carried Gun 5%40% % Shot At 7%34% Gang Status

15 Common Myths About American Gangs

16 Myths About American Gangs Street Gangs resemble Organized Crime Groups Gang members specialize in particular offenses Gang Members Graduate to Organized Crime Groups Status as a Gang Member is permanent Gangs Control Drug Retail and Wholesale Drugs Sales Gangs Are Effective Business Organizations You can never leave the Gang

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18 Responding to Gangs

19 Five Strategies for Responding to Gangs Source: Spergel & Curry 1990, 1993; Spergel 1995 Suppression Community Organization Organizational Change/Development Opportunity Provision Social Intervention

20 Five Strategies for Responding to Gangs Levels of Application as Primary Strategy 1988 National Youth Gang Survey

21 Five Strategies for Responding to Gangs Perceived Effectiveness Ratings 1988 National Youth Gang Survey

22 The Eurogang Program A group of European and American scholars that has met every year since 1997 to work to understand emerging gangs in Europe. The group has faced a remarkably similar set of issues as American gang researchers did in the 1980s. Key issues include: immigration, diversity, moral panic, the Eurogang paradox, and the role of cultural transmission. Somalian gangs in Oslo. Turkish and Moroccan gangs in Amsterdam and den Hague. Youth gangs in Russia and Kazan. Youth gangs in Italy. Ausiedler (Germans repatriated from the former Soviet Union) in Germany. Hate groups and neo-Nazis in Germany, Norway, and Finland. Jamaican gangs in Britain. British gang boys in Manchester.

23 The Perils of Misunderstanding Gangs

24 Why is it important to understand gangs? What errors does it lead us to make for policy, practice and programming if we misunderstand gangs? Who suffers from such a misunderstanding? Police. Youth. Youth Workers. Society. Gang members. Family members. Criminal Justice and Youth Policy.

25 Useful Websites for Further Information about Gangs - the site of the National Youth Gang Center - the site Of a comprehensive online book about gangs by Dr. Mike Carlie at Southwest Missouri State University - A general website with lots of arcane And interesting information. - A website Developed by the Michigan State library about gangs.


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