Teen Gangs: A Global View

Teen Gangs: A Global View

Teen Gangs: A Global View

Teen Gangs: A Global View

Synopsis

Teen gangs are a hot issue in the United States. This volume shows the international scope of the phenomenon today. Gang activity in 14 countries, including the United States, is discussed within the larger framework of social and economic conditions. Each chapter explains the nature of the gang activity in that country; touches on the causes, such as poverty, marginalization, and self-identity problems; and heavily emphasizes the responses, including education and community-based intervention.

Excerpt

After three-quarters of a century of thought and research about gangs in the United States, we still have not come up with a satisfactory shared definition of the word gang. In the worlds of social science and juvenile justice, gangs are usually described as a social problem. When drugs and crime are a part of gang activities, there is little disagreement about the nature of the problem. Yet what the entity precisely is that we are calling a gang remains unclear. Consequently, putting together this reference book, Teen Gangs: A Global View, presented unique challenges. We could not start with a common understanding of the nature of a gang, because none exists. We could not even start with a shared belief that gangs, particularly teen gangs, always represent serious social problems. What we did start with was a recognition that in all of the countries profiled, there is some level of concern among the public or the government about what are described as gangs and some effort to address the issue.

In some of the countries profiled, teen gangs are an emerging issue and little formal documentation about the problem exists. In those cases, the contributors relied on people within the countries who worked directly with teen gangs for current information. These cultural informants provided fascinating “insider” views of the teen gang situation. By their nature gangs are secretive groups, so in the best of cases, obtaining information was difficult. Very few of the countries profiled have the history of research and literature about gangs that the United States has.

All of the contributors to this book provided a description of the teen gang problem or situation. They examined the country's social and political

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