What is a Gang?

A gang is a group of recurrently associating individuals with identifiable leadership and internal organization, identifying with or claiming control over territory in the community, and engaging either individually or collectively in violent or other forms of illegal behavior. Gang members are typically "jumped in" or have to prove their loyalty by committing acts such as theft or violence. Although gangs exists internationally, there is a greater level of study and knowledgeable information of gangs specifically in the United States.*

Gang Information

The numerous push factors experienced by at-risk individuals vary situationally however follow a common theme for the desire of power, respect, money and protection. These factors are very influential in the luring process and largely contribute to the reasons why individuals join gangs. These factors are particularly more attractive and influential on at-risk youth. Many times individuals are experiencing low levels of these various factors in their own lives, and feel that joining a gang is the only way to obtain status and success. Unfortunately, a common sentiment is "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em". These at-risk individuals feel ostracized from the community and are experiencing a lack of social support. Upon joining a gang, they instantly gain a feeling of belonging and identity.*

Most gang members have identifying characteristics unique to their specific clique or gang. The Bloods, for instance, wear red bandanas, the Crips blue, allowing these gangs to "represent" their affiliation. Any disrespect of a gang member's color by an unaffiliated individual is regarded as grounds for violent retaliation, often by multiple members of the offended gang. Tattoos are also common identifiers,such as an '18' above the eyebrow to identify an 18th Street (gang) member. Tattoos help a gang member gain respect within their group, and mark them as members for life. They can be burned on as well as inked. Some gangs make use of more than one identifier, like the Nortenos, who wear red bandanas and have '14,' 'XIV,' 'x4,' and 'Norte' tattoos. Also, many male gang members wear earrings or other types of body jewelry, or simply have pierced ears to depict gang membership, unlike females, who usually wear jewelry for appearance.*

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* = information was found on Wikipedia