Gang Behavior in the United States
Changes in Gang behavior
The contemporary gangs are not like gangs of the past. There are many differences between these two types of gangs. For example, contemporary gangs are not found in areas such as slums. Research has shown that contemporary gangs are now living in suburban areas of Chicago. In addition, the contemporary gangs lack access to a specific territorial base unlike gangs of the past who did not hide their identity to the residents because they offered protection to the community against criminals from other communities. It is argued that contemporary gang is gender-based unlike the gangs of the past that were composed of only men. Finally, contemporary gangs have advanced in technology such that they can conduct their activities faster and can have wider access unlike the gangs of the past who had poor technologies (Orum, 1999).
The factors that have caused these changes are that people living in the slums are poor and they do not meet the social and economic conditions required by the gangs. This has facilitated the movement of gangs to suburb areas. For women joining the gang, they are either girlfriends or are married to male gang members and this makes them automatic members of the group (Orum, 1999). The dynamic modern technological advancement is also a factor.
Female Gang Activity
Many girls decide to be gang members because they have gone through many challenges in their lives such as physical abuse through raping by their parents or relatives. This pressurizes them to run away from home. Once in the streets, they mingle with street children who are of bad morals. They grow up knowing about drug abuse and joining gang groups to survive. Contemporary gangs are not gender-based because many women are now members of the group (Heinonen, 2013).
Opportunities to stop girls from joining gangs are missed because many of the girls joining gangs are performing poorly in education and as a result, they drop out of school. They also join these gangs because of hostile experiences in life coupled with low esteem. Joining gangs exposes them to health risks such as poor mental health. Girls should be educated about gangs and the risks they are exposed to if they join a gang. This will discourage them from joining such groups.
White Supremacist Ideology
Researchers are against the fact that the law is over labeling youths or other people as gang members because they cannot identify gang members. An illegal group is a gang if; it has an identified leadership, it claims to have control over a particular territory and it engages in criminal acts. They are further identified with their level of activity and level of commitment to the group. Research has shown that many gang groups consist of African-American men and they are always the first suspects. This has led to ethnic differences (Louis & Brotherton, 2008).
The Aryan Resistance Movement, Aryan Youth Movement, and White Aryan Resistance are not gangs because they aim to promote the recognition of the Aryan race in America, which is considered legal. They are fighting for equality in job opportunities and other opportunities such as education and access to resources just like Americans. They are not linked to any illegal activities or crimes (Louis & Brotherton, 2008).
Trends in the Skinhead Movement
Researchers have proved that Skinhead Movement is associated with members of a gang, and it facilitates communication with other gang members. These skinheads, such as tattoos represent their brutal acts. The skinhead gangs are believed to go beyond the boundaries of the white and are linked to subculture groups. In recent years, the number of Skinheads has increased. The skinhead varies from one region to another, and their activities are also varied. We should be concerned about this trend in the skinhead movement because it may suggest some criminal activities (Louis & Brotherton, 2008).
Hierarchy of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
In America, the outlaw motorcycle club is considered a criminal gang because members are believed to be distributing drugs, weapons and engaging in murder and prostitution activities. The group is one of the highly structured groups. They have a formal structure that has specialized units guided by laws. Members pay weekly dues to the headquarters. They have a mother club that is home to the national president. It also has a vice president who takes over if the president resigns or cannot work anymore. The secretary writes minutes in meetings and the treasurer handles the club finances (Liddick, 2004).
The formal structure makes the club different from street gangs in that decision-making is decentralized. They have a president and a vice president; thus, ensuring there is continuity in leadership in case the president has stepped down. They also have a treasurer who ensures money belonging to the group is managed properly. The street gang has no formal structure (Liddick, 2004).
Sons of Anarchy
The National Gang Crime Research Center says Sons of Anarchy (SOA) is a problem. This is because they are whites and the real motorcycle gangs may feel that the SOA gangs are trying to compete with them. The SOA gang members always maintain good hygiene standards; they always wear new clothes, keep their teeth clean, and keep their hair neat (Krenske & McKay, 2000).
Tom Baker says that SOA gets some things right because he believes that everything has a good purpose for its existence. With time, the SOA gang will transform and follow the right reasons. He suggested that everyone has his vision of being religious or being a civil perfection. With this, he meant that a time will come when the gang members will want to do good things (Krenske & McKay, 2000).
Paterson says that SOA gets right on race. By this, he means that the SOA gangs would adapt and change their characters as the environment changes over time. A time will come when they have to change their ways of doing things just like the body temperature changes with the change in the environment (Krenske & McKay, 2000).
Then there is this fact that the outlaw motorcycle members are dressed as rebels in leathers and jeans, unlike street gangs who have no dressing code. All members in the outlaw motorcycle club are expected to always maintain the dressing code. Color in this perspective of the uniformity in how the gangs present themselves can be through clothing or tattoos. It is important for the gangs in that it enables them to be recognized easily and identified to a group (Krenske & McKay, 2000).
FBI. (2011). National gang threat assessment- emerging trends. Web.
Heinonen, P. (2013). Youth gangs and street children: culture, nurture and masculinity in Ethiopia. New York: Berghahn Books.
Krenske, L., & McKay, J. (2000). ‘Hard and heavy’: gender and power in a heavy metal music subculture. Gender, Place and Culture, 7 (3), 287-304.
Liddick, R. (2004). The global underworld: transnational crime and the United States. New York: Amazon Publishers.
Louis, K., & Brotherton, C. (2008). Encyclopedia of gangs. Los Angeles: Amazon Publishers.
Orum, M. (1999). Changing societies: essential sociology for our times. Chicago: University of Illinois.