This study seeks to determine the factors that lead the youth to join gangs, as such, the possible factors that affect the adolescent’s behavior and decision has to be examined in various perspectives in order to come up with a more complete picture of the study’s subject of interest. Identifying the common personal characteristics of the gang member is important because it helps the users of this data and research project know more about the typical gang member. Personal characteristics include age, gender, ethnicity, birth order, and religion.
A number of studies had tried to examine the demographic profile of gang member but it was done more to provide a profile of the gang’s membership or roster and not as a possible influencing factor for joining gangs. Educational attainment is also an important data in this study as it would enable us to determine whether gang members are typically dropouts or still going to school. This is key information in the sense that gang members who go to school can possibly become a threat to the students in the school they attend.
Further, finding out the personal interests of the gang members would enable us to identify which interests are common to gang members and whether their shared interests lead to gang membership. Based on the premise that birds of the same feather flock together, individuals who share the same interests or have the same characteristics would naturally be drawn to each other. Becoming a gang member is not an easy process, it has been documented that gangs are close knit, they have an organizational structure and they have a set of rules that each member must follow judiciously before they are completely accepted in the gang.
Moreover, there are certain ritualistic or rites of membership that are asked of the individual who is seeking membership. Such rites of passage could be criminal acts of a lesser degree such as shoplifting, vandalism, vagrancy, dealing illegal drugs, or even murder for the hard-core gangs. However, it is also true that the more difficult it is to become a member of a group or gang, the more attractive it becomes for the prospective member.
It is not unlikely that adolescents may be drawn to the gangs because of its exclusivity and the difficult process that one has to go through to become a member of the group. Being predisposed to a condition or situation means that it is highly likely that an individual will experience that condition or situation with very little or no effort at all. For example, a girl who had a sister, mother and cousin afflicted with cervical cancer will be predisposed to cancer at a higher rate than those females who did not have any relatives with the said condition.
At the same rate, it is important to identify and determine the common factors that would predispose a child or adolescent to gain membership in gangs. Among the predisposing factors reported in previous studies, family system, academic performance, interpersonal skills, and psychological needs are the most common. In this study, the said predisposing factors will be investigated among prospective gang members who are still not officially members of the gang.
This study ultimately seeks to answer the question of what factors lead the youth to join gangs, and these factors could either be personal as in personal characteristics, social status of the family and the gang, the economic status of the family of origin and the gang, psychological factors include the need for belongingness, acceptance, and prestige. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, people are motivated to behave in specific ways in order to fulfill a need; gangs may be able to provide the said needs. Definition of Terms
Youth Gang is defined as a group that has been acknowledged by its members and by the society; it belongs to as a group involved in criminal acts. In this study, youth gang refers to the groups at which participants want to belong or are already members of that group. Youth refers to the subject of the study which can be any male or female whose age falls between 12-16 years old. In this study, the youth refers to the participants of the study who may or may not be members of youth gangs. 9 Gang Member refers to any male or female youth who is an official member of a youth gang.
Factors refer to any condition, event, personal circumstances, external influences, and psychological state that affect the decision of the youth to join a youth gang. Limitations of the Study This study is limited only to the investigation of the possible factors that contribute to the participant’s desire and decision to join gangs. Hence, only those reasons, motivation, or causes for joining gangs are identified and analyzed in the study. This study does not aim to understand why members leave gangs or how long a member will stay with the gang.
In addition, the researches analyzed were conducted in specific localities or areas and the data gathered in this study might be true only for the present realities of the city the study was conducted in. This limits the generalizations that could be made from the study. Moreover, the researches being studied relied on the self-report of the participants and since most gang members may have been involved in criminal acts, they might not have been as honest and forthcoming in their responses for fear of being identified and captured.
Necessary provision for control of the data and data gathering procedure had been designed to protect the integrity of the data and increase its validity and reliability. However, for limitations beyond the control of the researcher such as truthfulness and honesty of the responses of the participants, everything is taken in good faith and presumed to reflect the true feelings, ideas, and conditions of the participants.