A gang is a group of individuals who band together through a common identity or a common goal. Throughout history the word "gang" has been used synonymously with the word "group". It is only in recent history that it has been used in an exclusively negative way to describe groups of people involved in violent and criminal activities.
Life consists of a series of situations and choices. Sometimes the situations are beyond our control and sometimes they are the result of our choices. When a child is born in to poverty, abuse or neglect it is beyond their control. The fear and anger that results from that situation is a normal reaction to the situation. Fear and anger are powerful motivators. What they choose to do with that fear and anger is completely up to them.
They can choose to work to change their surroundings or to work to get out of those surroundings. There are many stories about people who have worked hard and have made great changes in their lives. They would be among the first to say that it isn't easy. Nothing worthwhile is easy. They would also say that it was worth every struggle, every hard moment.
They can also choose to embrace that fear and anger and act out in negative ways.
The human being is an animal, a mammal. We have our own set of instincts like any other animal. An animal that is afraid and angry is a very dangerous thing. When human beings choose to allow themselves to live in fear and anger, in a strictly survival frame of mind without a plan of action to get out of the larger situation (hope), they are very dangerous. Humans are social animals so we usually run in packs. Our instinct tells us that there is safety in numbers. Some may think they join a group looking for a family or to belong or to be cool but it really is about safety.
Naturally ruthless people are born in to all walks of life. They are pathologically ambitious and have little or no concern for other people and their well-being. They are very smart and organized. They can be found in corporations, in politics, in the military and even in religions. They can also be found at the head of a gang. Should this kind of person choose to join a gang, they will rise to the top and will probably hold the position longer than one who "inherited" the title.
Society plays an enormous role in the making of gangs. Economical disparity is a leading contributing factor in the formation of street gangs. When a society allows slums and ghettos to develop they are promoting gang activity. Statistics show that cities with larger slum areas suffer from more gang activity. Cities that have roughly the same number of low-income families that are living in smaller, better-kept communities have fewer problems.
Most children that grow up in a large, inner city slum area never get an opportunity to see anything outside of that way of life. The news will occasionally report a story about a few inner city kids that were bussed out of their community to a camp or to a museum. This always seems to make the more fortunate feel good. Unfortunately this happens for only a token few and usually only once in their lives. A bus carries children from the same area past life outside of their reality. If they go to camp, they go with the children and adults from their reality to a remote area to see trees not hope or change or opportunity. If they go to a museum or a theme park they may have fun but they don't experience hope or change or opportunity. They aren't there long enough to experience it. It is very difficult to teach a child something for which they have no frame of reference. It is very hard to teach children hope. It must be felt. Large, inner city slums are places of fear and hopelessness. They are permeated with an air of depression and anger.
Government Social Services in cities across America need to step up, as do the more fortunate Americans. There are thousands of people living in slums, and even in their cars or cardboard boxes that would love to be productive citizens. Many once were but they fell one paycheck short. Getting back on their feet requires help. Real help. Many thousands of bright children are born in to slums every year. Or they move there. If given real opportunities, many of them would succeed. Real opportunities like good schools that are well supplied. They would all benefit greatly by living in places where they can see hope. Places where they can see opportunities. But they don't. So the fear and the anger grows.
Law enforcement in the slums is next to nonexistent. The general thought is that it's too dangerous to go there so let them kill themselves off. The problem with that is that it breeds more crime. When law and order is not enforced it ceases to exist. "Why follow laws when no one else does?" There are many law-abiding citizens who live there that deserve protection under the constitution. Children live there. They deserve protection. Child Protective Services doesn't want to go in there any more than the police do. So the fear and the anger grows.
Our lawmakers must abolish slums. It's a true form of slavery and it needs to be punished by strict penalties and sentences. It amounts to slavery because it keeps a group of people depressed and compressed and makes it difficult to get out. Slums, or ghettos, were used to house "undesirables" in German occupied Europe. We have accomplished the same thing here. The problem is that most of the occupants are not "undesirables", however it is a successful breeding ground for creating "undesirables".
Of course there will always be those who choose to live on the fringe of society. They are the bottom feeders who have no desire to work or to be productive. They would rather live off of others, either by welfare or by crime or both. They choose this way of life. If our society quit feeding them they would have to make a different choice. Become productive or end up in jail.
As always, it comes down to choice. Some choices are easier than others. Others are extremely difficult and it takes years to see the benefits. Explain that to a child.