A Statewide Research Study - Sample Essay

Individual factors play a significant role in a person’s decision to join gang. For example, research shows that children who have an inability to adopt a future-time perspective or to grasp future consequences of behavior have an increased risk of joining gang or engaging in antisocial activities than other children.

There are also other psychological factors that contribute towards the tendency to join gangs such as the inability to delay gratification; the inability to regulate emotions; the need for stimulation and excitement; low harm avoidance; low frustration tolerance; central nervous system dysfunction; low cortical arousal; a predisposition to aggressive behavior; low general aptitude or intelligence; exposure to violence and abuse (either as victim, or witness); alienation; rebelliousness; association with deviant peers; favorable attitudes toward deviant behavior; peer rejection; alcohol and drug abuse; and early onset of aggression or problem behaviors; which also have a significant impact on an individual child’s decision to engage in antisocial behaviors or to join delinquent peer group.

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(Lor, 2003). According to studies by Lawson other psychological factors, such as the need for affiliation, the need for achievement, low self-esteem, lack of positive role models, and boredom, also contribute to a child’s decision to join a gang. For some kids, guns, gangs, and drugs are simply the vehicles through which to satisfy more basic yearnings. Sometimes, young people join gangs as a short and fast route to get money and material goods. The absence of fear of the criminal justice system is what drives many hard-core youths to commit crimes.

Gang members know that juvenile penalties lack real consequences, which draws many youths to do dirty works for older gang members. According to Witkin (1991), adult gang members hire youngsters to run drugs, because penalties are so much weaker if they are caught (Witkin, 1991). Conclusion: Boys and girls join gangs for many reasons. They may feel a need to belong to a peer group or a “substitute family. ” They may need protection from an abusive family, or from other gangs. They may want a feeling of pride in their culture, their language, or their neighborhood. Some people join gangs because they want money and power. Others join because a gang is an outlet for hostility, where crime and fighting are praised. Still others join because they need someone to lead them.

They have a weak sense of identity. Thus, it is true to say that the reasons as to why young people join gangs can be best explained by studying the risk factors in five domains: community, family, school, peer and individual.


Baccaglini, W. F. 1993. Project Youth Gang-Drug Prevention: A Statewide Research Study. Rensselaer, NY: New York State Division for Youth. Brantley, A. C. , & DiRosa, A. (1994, May). Gangs: A national perspective. FBI La Enforcement, 1-19 Decker, S. H. , and Van Winkle, B. 1996. Life in the Gang: Family, Friends, and Violence. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Gangs. Encyclopedia of Psychology (2006). http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g2699/is_0004/ai_2699000477/pg_1



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