Discussion Week 7

One of the main reasons that people join gangs and one of the main issues that may prevent them from leaving is lack of social support networks. According to Spergel (2007), juveniles join gangs for several reasons. The most important of which is the gang provides them with a sense of social support that the juvenile may not be receiving from their family, the school, or the community as a whole. The support network is often not present in terms of education, employment, family influence, or community involvement. This is only compounded by the fact that many gang members live in urban areas where poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and economic instability have become a way of life. This creates situations whereby young people are left without the resources to succeed in life by legitimate means and feel that if they cannot succeed in school, or in work, they must find some sense of social belonging and purpose. 
At the individual level, the main effect of this lack of social support that causes youth to join gangs includes anger, impulse control problems, poor educational and career prospects, incarceration, violence, and psychological problems. At the community level this specific problem is associated with higher crime rates, broken families, underage drinking, and drug abuse, prostitution, drive by shootings and a broken community. There are no easy solutions for this particular problem. One simply cannot build a social support network, in a community or for individuals where these things have perhaps been broken beyond all repair. It can be concluded that lack of social support may be the most overwhelming obstacle for someone trying to leave a gang. 


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