Youth gang involvement has been around for centuries, but that does not make it less concerning. According to the National Gang Center, eight percent of youths have joined a gang at least once by the time they hit their 20s. On average, they stay in a gang for one to two years. There are many reasons why some kids join gangs, and here are four of them:
To have a sense of belonging
Many kids come from abusive or neglectful families. As a result, they run away from home to find others who may treat them better. Gangs exploit the plight of runaways by preying on their insecurities and coercing them into committing crimes.
It is a “family tradition”
Some kids join gangs because they grew up in gang families, so family members expect them to continue the tradition. The American Mafia families are a famous example of this.
Peer pressure is something most adolescents experience since they are individualizing themselves from parental expectations to gain approval from their peers. Some teens think being in a gang is a “cool and exciting” way to gain status and respect. Of course, they learn the hard way that it’s anything but a remarkable adventure.
They feel they cannot amount to anything better
Some kids struggle with getting good grades or living up to a “perfect” sibling their parents favor. Therefore, they give up and join gang members. In their eyes, being part of a criminal group is better than nothing. Regardless of the reasons, caring adults need to step in and do everything to save troubled youth before they are tangled in the justice system. If your child or another young relative is involved in gang activity, reach out to legal guidance for assistance.