Research on the Diversity in Types of Youth Gangs
Mentioning the word "gang" today conjures up images of television reporters reporting on how "gang-related" incidents have claimed the lives of people, or have resulted in property damage, and this is how the average citizen watching the evening news at home develops a simple generalization about something that is actually much more complex. What people must realize is that individuals who are gang members in urban America have been molded and shaped by conditions very much unlike those of conditions in small-town America. They have different motivations, aspirations, and different outlooks on life than individuals raised in rural America. Two gangs formed by individuals from both urban and rural areas will, therefore, be very much different in reasons for existing as a gang. When looking at the gang problem in America, the diversity in types of gangs must be considered before ideas for gang control are proposed. The differences in types of individuals making up urban and rural gangs should be considered, as well as the atmospheres under which the individuals live. In this paper, some possible reasons are given for the proliferation of gang behavior in the United States, and suggestions provided for plans of attack on limiting the existence of gang activity. The author uses interviews with interviews with police chiefs from Kalamazoo, Michigan and Holland, Michigan to supplement the literature in order to describe the differences in the types of individuals who form youth gangs; differences in conditions which stimulate gang activity in a large city compared to a smaller town; and possible contributors to the proliferation of gang activity.