To one person a gang can mean the group of teens that steals, breaks things, and intimidates people, to another it can mean a kind of replacement family that one has found, people closer to you than brothers and sisters. How does this happen? Why do people form these groups, that almost always lead to violence and crime? Are they people who simply have no regard for the law or anyone else, or is there something deeper behind it?
The answer to this is clear: Focus Adolescent Services, a group oriented to helping troubled teenagers states the answer in concrete terms. When there is a problem in your life or your family life the risk of being influenced by a gang is huge. There is a direct relationship for example, with poverty and gang activity. Poor areas and slums almost breed gangs, and are riddled with the problems that come with them. This is not to say that only poor people join gangs: troubled people from any class can descend to that level for a variety of reasons, but poverty and the shame that come with it are definitely among the top reasons for people joining gangs. The gang provides a structured, and reassuring alternative life, where violence, rudeness, and gang ‘honor’ dominate, and act as an outlet for inner frustrations.
Once one is in a gang, it can be very hard to get out again, even if one wants to. Gang honor is dominant in all gang related endeavors. The Hamilton Police Service has compiled a report on this, and the conclusions are simple yet obvious. Respect for another in the ranks of a gang is paramount, and one usually gains respect by acts of violence, rudeness, or fear. Gang members consider each other brothers and sisters, but any outsider is considered an enemy. This of course leads to ‘rival’ gangs, which combat each other to try and preserve their standing, which inevitably leads to the violence and criminality that the world has come to expect from gangs.