Gang violence is a severe dispute throughout the World.  It is a more serious issue in the United Sates than in other countries.  More teens are involved in gang activities and violence than the adults that find it interesting; teens are the ones that started gangs.  If all teens were to stop all gang activity, the gang violence would go down to the point where there is hardly any.  Sometimes the gang violence and affiliation goes up at extraordinary rates; but cities try to keep that from happening.  Many cities try different strategies and programs to keep the teens that are in their communities out of the “gang life.”  Many teens join the “gang life” to receive something they don’t receive in their household: love and attention.  Many cities are making a lot of progress with putting a stop to gang violence and some cities aren’t making any progress at all.




Issues with Gangs

            Gang violence is a serious issue in America and many other countries.  It’s more serious in America; the rates are higher.  In the United States there were 11,789 murders, 373 in Germany, 151 in Canada,  fifty-seven  in Australia, 54 in England and Wales put together,  and nineteen in Japan (Violence Prevention Institute, 2012, para13).  This proves that the United States has the highest murder rates. From 1997 to 2007, the gang-related murders in Canada climbed from 28 to 117 (MacQueen, atal, 2012, p.20).  That’s very low for such a huge country.  It is estimated that 772,500 people in the U.S. were members of gangs in 2000, a drop of eight percent from the number of active members in 1999 (Violence Prevention Institute, 2012, para5).  A lot of people are involved in gang activity in the U.S. In 1999, the crime cost in Guatemala was an annual $5,500 and this number has risen over the past decade (Brands, 2011, p. 237). That’s not nearly as much as the crime cost in the United States.  The United States has alternating result of crime; the prevention rate, the number of youth gangs and members, and the crime rates sometimes goes up and sometimes goes down.

Youth and Gangs

            Adults aren’t the only age group that is involved in gang activity; the youth are too.  In fact, there just as involved as the adults are.  Their rates are high too.  For instance, there were 144,200 children that were arrested for violent crimes in the year of 1991 (Goldentyer, 1994, p.11).  This not only proves that there are young people in gangs; it also proves that there is a large amount of young people in gangs.  “In 1996, 50% of gang members were under the age of 18, but in 1999 only 37% of gang members were estimated to be under the age of 18” (Violence Protection Institute, 2012, para8).  It’s nice to see a decrease in the percentages because it shows that the youth are focused on something else.  According to Goldentyer (1994), ninety percent of gangs affiliates were ages twelve to twenty-one in the year of 1991 (p.11).  That’s an even higher percentage than in 1996; therefore that’s a bigger percentage from 1991 to 1999.  Goldentyer (1994) also stated that there were approximately 120,000 youth gangs in 1991 (p.11).  All youth gangs shows that the youth are too involved with gangs.  A 2006 National Youth Gang Survey shows there is an estimated amount of 26,500 youth gangs in the U.S., with 785,000 members (Klein, 2009, p.27).  That’s a ridiculous amount.  Imagine how many gangs and gang members there are right now, six years from then.  There are many more.  According to Currie (2010) twenty-seven percent of public school students ages twelve to seventeen said that they attend a school where there are drugs and gang violence (para2).  The public schools should do something about these problems; it may keep other students from learning.  It may seem that the youth’s involvement with gangs started in the 1990’s, but it didn’t.  It started over a century before the 1990’s.  The first gangs in America were made up of Irish immigrant youths in the 1800’s (Rodriguez, 1994, p. 607).  There are still gangs and they are growing rapidly.  As stated by Gail B. Stewart (2001), “by 1885, more than 30,000 young men owed allegiance to gang leaders in New York City” (p.12).  There are still youth gangs today but the number is much larger and there is much more violence.


            Most homicides are gang-related. Many cities try different strategies to keep the people that live there from joining in on gang activity.  In 2011, the office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GYRD) of Los Angeles showed these results for the ten to fourteen year olds that participate in their programs: twenty-three percent decreases in antisocial behavior, twenty-nine percent decreases in lack of parental supervision, thirty-five percent decrease in critical life events, forty-seven point three decreases in gangs fights, thirty-five decreases in spending time with gang members, and forty-eight percent decreases in participation in gang activities (Rice, 2012, para21).  This shows magnificent changes in the teen’s attitude about gangs.  Ceasefire, a program where law enforcers and community elders sit down and talk with the gang and drug members, helped improve the gang homicide rates in Cincinnati.  It made the biggest annual homicide decline the city has had since 1991, twenty-four percent (Kennedy, 2001, p.26).  This shows that they really care about the safety of the people in their communities.  From 1985 to the summer of 2012, the prevention program of Los Angeles had demonstrated a thirty-five percent in gang affiliation (Rice, 2012, para4).  Los Angeles’s gang homicide percentage drop is larger than many cities in the United States. According to Terry McCarthy (2004), New York City presides over a fifty percent drop in homicides (p.56). New York City really showed improvement.  Evaluators have documented decreases in participants’ antisocial behavior; there was approximately a forty-eight percent reduction in gang fights and there was a forty-eight percent reduction in gang activity (Rice, 2012, p. para15).  That’s a respectable decrease; it’s larger than most large cities in the U.S.  Between 2008 and 2011 the Summer Night Lights (SNL) program, a program in which the communities of Los Angeles offer activities at night at the parks to keep them safe, had produced a fifty-five percent reduction in shots fired and forty-five percent in aggravated assaults (Rice, 2012, para22).  SNL show magnificent results.  Boris Weintraub (2009) exclaims that during the first year of the SNL programs, the neighborhoods experienced a seventeen percent drop in overall violent crime (p.46).  Los Angeles seems to be the only major city making a lot of progress with getting their gang homicide rates down, not saying that they’re the only major city trying.  They have a lot of anti-violence programs that help the people, mostly the youth, stay out of gang troubles.

The Violence Prevention Institute’s (2012) study shows:

It is estimated that more than 24,500 gangs were active in the U.S. in 2000, which is a drop of 5% from the number estimated to be active in 1999.  Despite this overall decrease in the number of gangs, cities with population over 25,000 reported a very slight increase in the number of active gangs from 1999 (para3).

The police officers in the large cities aren’t doing their job well enough to lower the number of gangs in the city they’re supposed to be protecting.  Since they aren’t making any process and the number is increasing, their cities are going to have more violence.

Gang Violence at its High Points

            Gang violence and homicide rates haven’t always gone down.  There were many times when it has gone up, a lot.  On this occasion, Chicago dispatched a thirty-three percent increase in gang homicide from 1985 to the summer of 2012 (Rice, 2012, para4).  This isn’t a surprise for the reason that Chicago is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States; it has some of the highest homicide rates.  In Victorville, California the District’s Attorney (DA) office filed a total of 7,375 gang cases and has sent 4,419 gang members of state prison from 2005 to 2012 (Shimura, 2012, para7).  Compared to larger cities, the smaller towns have lower amounts of gang violence; but it’s still a high amount.

Rice’s (2012) article says:

After 35 years of fighting a $25 billion ‘war on gangs’, the county of Los Angeles found itself in the year of 2005 with six times as many gangs, twice as many gang members a gang violence epidemic, high homicide rates, and a legacy hostility between police and residents of high crime zones (para2).

Rice (2012) also exclaimed that the 35 year ‘war on gangs’ gave Los Angeles the horrible title of the most violent city in America (para3).  With these consequences, California is upset with Los Angeles because that is a lot of money.  In 2002, the gang activity of Los Angeles was one of the main reasons the homicide rate rose fifty-one percent (McCarthy, 2004, para3).  It seems like it would be the first reason.  Cincinnati ended the year of 2006 with eighty- nine homicides, which is more than double before the riot the city had after the killing of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed African American man, and a historic peak for the city (Kennedy, 2011, para3).  It’s extreme how a city would start a riot just because of the death of an African American man.  In 2001, fifty-three percent of all homicides were gang related in Chicago and fifty-nine percent of Los Angeles’s homicides were gang related; there was a combined amount of 698 gang related homicides in the two cities (Violence Prevention Institute, 2012, para1).  These two cities should do something about their high number of gang related homicides: like start more antiviolence programs and arresting more gang members.


            On the whole, gang violence is a very serious issue in America and many other countries around the World.  As proven earlier in this paper, the United States is the most violent country in the World.  The larger cities in the U.S. have the most gang violence compared to the smaller cities.  One hundred percent of cities with population greater than or equal to 250,000 have reported gang activity in 2001” (Violence Prevention Institute, 2012, para1).  Twenty percent of cities with population between 2,500 and 24,999 have reported gang activity in 2001 (Violence Prevention Institute, 2012, para1).  As the number of people in each city goes down, the amount of gun and gang violence also goes down.   “It is estimated that 39% of gangs active in 2000 had at least one female member; 2% of gangs were identified as being composed of predominantly female members” (Violence Prevention Institute, 2012, para7).  This is part of the reason why the number of gangs is high; because not only males are in gangs, females are too.



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