Gang membership is increasing, not just in the cities, but all over rural areas and suburbs. Gangs promise a great deal to their members, but, in reality, what they offer is a counterfeit for the real thing. These are some of the promises of gang membership, along with the real story. Joining a gang is never a good thing. Education can help teens and others make better choices.
Gang members promise popularity, but really work to isolate members from the outside world. They have their own language. Whether this involves words or phrases, this language is only understood by other members of the gang. They also often have a dress code of some sort. It is part of the “us against them” mentality.
They create a bunch of ‘mini-mes’ that look alike, act alike, and much more. They isolate a person from those who would really like them and create a culture of fear where others may want nothing to do with them.
Gangs promise cash flow, but engage in illegal behavior to get it. This involves such as dealing drugs, stealing and selling stolen goods, exhorting protection money, and much more. Does your teen seem to have money or things you have no idea how they got?
According to the article Teens and Gangs, gang members often make less money over a lifetime than those who do not join. The causes are a lack of education, illegal activities that often send them to jail, difficulty getting hired at a real job with a rap sheet, and a much shortened life-span. The idea that gang life pays is a misnomer in every possible way.
Gangs promise safety, but deal in violence. Whether your teen is engaged in violence where you can see it or not, he or she is immersed in a culture of violence. It will show in either overt ways or covert ways. Does your teen use violence against others? Does the teen seem excessively fearful?
Gangs offer friendships, but gain instant enemies. The friendship factor is often based on obedience to the gang, not real caring. All those who are not in your gang become your enemies. From worry about individual safety, they trade worry about gang safety.
Gangs promise identity, but they actually take away identity by forcing its
members to conform. The gang offers autonomy, but in reality, members often have to take a “blood oath” saying they will obey all the rules. It is amazing how teens seeking to get out from under all the rules in their life will trade those rules for other, much more stringent, rules.
Gangs promise “family,” but offer a very dysfunctional counterfeit. Families, well the good ones anyway, love the person, warts and all, and seek the good of the family member. In a gang, the good of the ‘family’ overrides any concern for the good of the individual. Individuals may be sacrificed to the good of the Family.
Finally, gangs promise life, but all they give is death, whether a living death in the gang life-style or actual death from the ever present violence. According to the Teens and Gangs article, “most gang members plan their funerals in advance.” Gangs are not the stuff of life and hope; they are the stuff of death and hopelessness.
Gangs do not offer what they promise. There are better ways to have one’s needs met. As the violence and counter-culture of gangs approaches closer to your neck of the woods, wherever that may be, know that there are other options. Family, friends and even the Police will help those being pressured to join a gang. The enemy is the gang, not those who would seek to help you escape its tentacles of death.