Juveniles joining gangs
By: Caroline Jimenez, JS Senior
We see and hear more about our children are being forced into joining gangs, who are killed because of the color of cloths they wear or what part of Mexico they are originally from. Many juveniles who join the gangs are individuals with low self-esteem, loners, individuals who submitted to the pressure of their peers and come from poor and dysfunctional families. To these young and impressionable juveniles, the gang life replaces their family and social ties to the community.
Today’s generation of juvenile gang members have become more violent than the previous generations. They have become territorial and engage in a series of criminal offenses ranging from felonies, misdemeanors and infractions. In addition, juvenile gang members have become more aggressive in criminal activity against the community, with many committing crimes on behalf their adult gang members. Although there have been some individuals who have been able to get out of the gang life, they face a difficult time trying to fit back into their community and are often threaten by their own gang members for leaving the gang. Many end up rejoining their gang family. Yet, there have been a few exceptional individuals who have managed to become model citizens and begin a new life away from the gang life and violence.
In order to combat gang violence, the attitudes of society need to change. Politicians, law makers and the criminal justice system need to revise current laws in order to make this happen. Our government needs to focus on building facilities for after school programs that cater to teenagers in middle school and high school that would keep them off the streets and focus on their education and career goals. For those after school programs that close earlier, they should close at a later time in the evening. In addition, middle schools and high schools should consider having parent group sessions for those parents who have knowledge of and experience with their own teenagers joining gangs or have been victims of gang violence. By implementing these programs, neighbors, friends and family will be able to keep an eye out for each others family members and stop any gang influence and violence.