Gangs are known for sowing destruction wherever they are, be it the city or country, first world or third. When fights between rival gangs break out, it is almost certain that innocent bystanders will also become victims of the violence. Not only that, but gangs also prey on otherwise good kids through intimidation or just the illusion of offering a better life. Oftentimes, gangs can become powerful enough that local (and even national) law enforcement is unable to sufficiently deal with the threat. Oftentimes, heavy-handed tactics against gangs only lead to more bloodshed in the form of violent reprisals. In what seems like an ever-deepening cycle of violence, such gangs lead their communities deeper and deeper into bloodshed and misery.

Gang prevention is a problem we have been struggling with for a long time, but it seems that the more effort that goes into this cause, the worse the problem seems to escalate. Is it a problem for government or does the solution lie with all of us?

Even if the problem is one for everyone to deal with where do we begin? Has the problem with gangs spiralled to such a degree that us as individuals are helpless to eradicate it. Or is it because we think we cannot do much to prevent the situation that we just don’t.

Although gangs are a huge burden on society, we don’t often know a lot about it. To stop gangs, it is imperative to know gangs better, their ways of communication and their behaviors. The police seem to be swamped with crimes committed by gangs and always need the help of everyone to let them know when there are any gang related activities going on.

A gang is a group of people with a common idea. The gang will be identified by its name, colors and all members will be required to commit a crime. Because gang members usually come from bad homes and poor neighborhoods they find acceptance and support in their gangs. Their feelings towards their fellow gang mates can be compared to that of family and therefore they will do anything their gangs require.

Many children grow up surrounded by gangs. Sometimes the gang members are neighborhood heroes for their actions or spending money. Sometimes they are respected because they have been shot, spent time in jail, carry a gun, deal drugs or were victorious in fights. Always they defy the rules of being responsible and doing well in school. Gang members usually have difficulties in school (grades and skills as well as behavior) and see little to gain for identifying with school and school activities.

Typically individuals make the decision to become gang members between the ages of 11 and 13. What they don’t realize is the length of commitment they are making, because age and life span has little meaning to a pre-adolescent. Gangs today require members to be actively involved for their entire lives. Involvement means different requirements but essentially they boil down to defending the territory, source of income and individuals within the gang. Violence, “partying” with substance use and abuse and sexual activities become their way of life.