Today, the phenomenon of the youth gang surge and spread of criminal subculture represent a relevant issue for the US. In scientific and media discourse, youth gangs are usually perceived and discussed from the standpoint of juvenile violence, delinquencies, and criminal conduct. Meanwhile, the social context and peculiarities of youth rationale for entering the gang are less discussed. The following analysis suggests that the solution of issues connected with social context surrounding the youth gangs, like social class, inequality, and unstable neighborhoods, are of primary importance to mitigate the negative implications of the youth gang spread in the US.
First of all, it is necessary to explore what groups can be defined as “youth gangs.” Despite the presence of numerous definitions, the standard criterion for youth gang identification is the group of 3 or more youth or young adults with a shared identity, allegiance, permanence, and particular form of organization (Holmes, Tewksbury & Higgins, 2012). Usually, the distribution of power and influence within gangs is organized vertically and tend to focus on a particular area, while the gangs are commonly comprised of the members of the same ethnic or cultural background.
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Currently, the youth gangs are increasingly identified with the criminal world of organized crime. Indeed, it is hard to deny that the organized crime in the United States has changed, and instead of large syndicates or criminal organizations, people more often encounter street gangs ” groups of criminals who control certain areas and specialize in minor crimes, robberies, racketeering, and drug trafficking. The particular feature of gangs in the US is the growing number of young gang members and the creation of gangs that consists completely of youth. Thus, recent scholar findings suggest that the scale of the problem is considerably underestimated in the US, as there are more than one million juvenile gang members (Pyrooz & Sweeten, 2015).
However, comprehensive studies admit that the nature of youth gang activity is largely misrepresented,
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