Understanding The Motivation: Why Do People Join Gangs
Updated September 04, 2018
Children Face Immense Stress
Many kids can feel alienated by their peers or otherwise have trouble making friends. In addition, in some cities or neighborhoods, children may face immense peer pressure to join particular groups or gangs, sometimes in order to fit in or gain protection from bullies or other groups. Children and young teens are often tasked with filling large amounts of free time, and finding connections with those in organized groups can be a way to fill this excess.
Particular risk factors are those that have a lack of parental supervision, are exposed to poverty, or experience early academic failure or lack of healthy social attachment. The reasons for why do people join gangs can range from simple to complex, from naturally occurring to clandestine recruitment. As a parent, it's important to take the steps you can attempt to prevent your child from slipping in to bad company.
Gangs Aren't All Bad
Social connections are important in developing and maintaining a healthy, well-adjusted emotional life, especially in our early years. There have been some movements to help establish "gangs" based on positive social interactions, helping to fulfill the need for community and connection in those that seek it out. By fulfilling a child's need for identity, protection, and fellowship, the "gangs" become irrelevant.
Some are drawn towards involvement due to the risk, and the excitement that comes with risk-taking behaviors. Participation in criminal gangs often leads to an extended lifestyle of anti-social or criminal activity. While some people rehabilitate and pursue normal and productive lives, many get stuck under the mindset that comes with this culture, where violence is often a means to an end. Fulfilling a young person's need for association in other ways can help to push away the alternative.
Why Do People Join Gangs
Understanding the pressure that children feel to conform to their peers and their need for a sense of purpose can help you to take steps as a parent to counteract gang involvement.
While the case for some families is, unfortunately, that the parents may work long hours and not have time to dedicate to supervise or direct their kids, there are certain habits and values that you can work on to create a healthy communication line with your child. It's an established pattern that if a parent or family member is in a gang, it often leads the child to joining the same, as they are exposed to the social ties to (of) the gang at home.
BetterHelp is an online resource aimed at providing accessible and affordable access to mental health care or counseling. Speaking with a therapist can be a good way to better understand your situation while working to introduce healthier habits.