Why Do Teens Join Gangs?

YO! Youth Outlook and CYMC, Audio, Rueben Palomares Posted: May 19, 2006



(4m 11s, mp3, 3.4MB) Download File

I wonder why teens join gangs. Ive seen some of my friends join gangs and I wonder why they joined. Did they think they were going to be famous? Did they think everyone was going to know them now and want to invite them to special events? Or did they want to sell drugs on their block and become hood rich? Maybe theres more to it than you think.

Maybe, their family is in a gang and it only feels right for this person to join the gang. I know this one kid who just got jumped into a gang and hes only16. He said his mom was part of LNS, a local Mission gang, his dad was a Norteo and his uncle got killed by a Sureo. He said hes been wanting to be a Norteo his whole life. When I asked him what he would do if he had a son who wanted to be jumped in, he said I wouldnt want him to but if hes eighteen he gonna do what he gonna do.

A lot of times when a kids family is messed up, they end up spending more time on the streets, and the gang becomes like their second family. Maybe they only have a mom and she has drug problems or is never around or is around too much. Maybe they have a dad that is never around or is on drugs. Some kids suffer through home life with parents who are always drunk on alcohol and they dont really know their parents. So they meet older gang members that give them money and make them feel like a lil bra or even lil son. Or, they might not even have a family in the U.S. and the gang might be the closest family this person has. There are hella gang members who come from other countries by themselves without their family and they are on their own out here.

Sometimes its just about where you live. Someone might live on the block and if he/she dont join the gang, they will get MESSED with whenever a gang member feels like it, so they might want protection. Some OGs told me they joined up cuz they lived right there and if they didnt join then every time they passed by they were gonna get beat up or they could join up, get more protection, and beat the next person that aint in the gang. If theres a gang in the neighborhood, its more likely that a kid living around there will join up. If the gang knows youre a weak person, they might just pressure you to join up til you give in and finally do it.

Theres this kid I know that told me he used to be a stoner. He said that he used to not really fight or try to start fights or rob people. He told me that one time gang members around his hood tried to check him for no reason. But when he joined the gang, every thing changed. Gang members never fuck with him anymore. He also said his fellow gang members showed him how to check enemies, how to rob and how to stand up for himself if fellow gang members want to test him to make sure hes down for the gang. He also got schooled on how to make drug money. He says he likes this life better.

Teenagers love this life cuz they feel powerful, rich and respected at a young age. They think they are going to become rich and gang famous. The real OGs know the opposite. Most of them talk about regretting everything and about the choices they made getting into the gang in the first place back in the day. A lot of OGs have spent their whole lives in and out of the pen, and are out on the street asking for money cuz the gang life took away a lot of opportunities they could have had when they were younger. The younger OGs in their twenties are still deep in the game and busy recruiting new members so their gang can get stronger and stay alive out on these streets. And thats where they go lookin for new booties to keep it alive.


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john Sagapolu on May 20, 2006 at 15:43:22 said:

I joined a gang when I was 16 years old. It just happened that all my friends from the hood where all in the gang. So there wasnt any body else to hang around with.

My family ties were strong. I had a lot of family around and my mom and dad were still together. I am Samoan and the first in my family to join a Norteno gang called DGF ( Dont Giva Fuck )out of South Hayward California. And of course I started a cycle of violence in my family that Im trying to break today.

Im 37 now and gave up banging about7 years ago when my daughter was born. I still feel a strong urge to take off on my old enemies and a sence of pride when I hear people talk about Nortenos or my old school gang. Its hard to give it up even though I lost over 50 friends to death and prison. Sometimes I feel like I let those who died or in jail down by walking away.

I love my kids and they give me a reason to live. Before I use to say fuck life. I didnt think i would make it to 25. I really didnt care if I lived or died. Now I live for my kids. Would I want my kids in a gang ? HELL NO!!! I dont care if they are 18 or 25.

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