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Scott Decker’s reason for doing his research into gang violence was to obtain a better understanding of the association of the high level of violence associated with gang membership, how it spreads, escalates into gang violence. (Decker, 2001) He along with his assistant Dietrich Smith did a study for three years on the streets on St. Louis Missouri. No one felt Smith was a harm due to he was paralyzed from 11 gunshot wounds from an offender. Dietrich was able to help Decker to obtain much of the information he need for his research from the 99 sample members of the gang. “This information provides insights into gang processes, escalation of violence, the spreading of gangs from one community to another, and increasing of gang membership.” (Decker, 2001) Decker’s study was for three years. Decker’s definition of collective behavior adopted from McPhail (1991) which has three elements: group, behavior, “common actions that vary in one or more levels such as purpose, organization, or duration.” (McPhail, 1991)
Klein and Maxon 1989 stated violence is part of a gang member’s life. Threat is an important part of the existence of the gang member’s livelihood. It helps the gang increase its members. Unity of gangs, according to Klein, (1971 study) is primarily external which results in inner-gang conflict. The unity within a gang’s growth is in proportion to the possibility of the threat that is presented to the rival group. Padilla agreed with Klein in his study in 1992 with similar findings as far the strengthening of ties among gang members and increasing the commitment to each other.
“Klein 1971 indentifies that the unity is primarily external and the results are inner gang related which causes conflict. Hager don also had an observation on this in 1988.
Klein observation on unity within the gang grows in ratio to perceived threat presented by rival gangs.
Padilla agreed with Klein in 1992 with similar findings. Strengthening ties among gang members and increasing commitment to each other.
This makes members more loyal and the commitment to stay in the gang easier and easier to stand beside his/her members and commit acts of violence.
The threat of violence in the neighborhood or close area causes neighborhood boys to want to join the gang. (Vigil, 1988)
This makes members more loyal and the commitment to stay in the gang easier to stand beside his/her members to commit acts of violence. The threat of violence in the neighborhood or close area causes neighborhood boys to want to join the gang. (Vigil 1988)
The software Decker used was GOFER to hold all the statistics that he obtained on the gang members. During the research of three years 16 members were killed, two were put in prison, and one in a wheelchair.
Decker did not only try to receive information from the gang members, but the family also, especially the mothers of the gang members. He went to meetings of a group which is called, “Families Advocating Safe Streets.” (Decker, 2001)” “This organizations was formed by mothers whose oldest sons were killed during gang fights, and the youngest sons were incarcerated for avenging his brothers death.” (Decker, 2001)
These meetings remind people of the tragedies of what the violence brings and who it hurts. Researchers need to be tuned into both the victim and the criminal.
Many neighborhoods groups form to protect against outside threat. (Suttles, 1972) The groups also form from ethnic origin, although territorial concerns guide the real reason for concern. (Sanders, 1993)
The analysis focuses on the threat factor whether it is an actual or perceived it can cause great danger it causes the gang to become worked up and start to recruit members.
Well defined goals are either instrumental or expressive. Sanchez – Jankowski 1991 argued it was more of an instrumental orientation based on his 10 year study of three cities of gangs in a formal rational – organization. These organizations have rules that need to be followed. His research as far as gangs stood along as far as conclusions.
Yablonsky felt the group leaders were emotionally disturbed and lacked controls to participate in violence.
Threat is a potential of overstepping a boundary against or physical harm to the gangs, represented by acts or presence of rival group.
In explaining functions and consequences of gang violence
Helps define them to rival gangs; to community and social institutions was 10 yr study in San Diego argument of conventional values w/ underclass values spiced by realities of street culture makes violate combination.
Young men hanging on corners seemed to lead to more formalized structures (gangs) according to the conflicts that these young men had with the police. (Hagedorn, 1988)
Emergence of splinter gangs can be traced to escalation of violence with in larger gangs corresponding threat larger gang to represent territorial or age graded subgroups.
Sullivan states the character of most gang violence and describes the role of fighting occurs at young age normative character (Sullivan, 1989)
What threat does:
Threat may contribute to the growth of gangs working to build the membership due to retaliation to protect their own from rival gangs.
Threats of possible drive – by shootings or physical harm from rival gangs are what cause gangs to unify as one from neighborhood to neighborhood.
The myth of the nature of violence is what causes gangs to be more prepared for violent appointments. The threats can be important to a point due to it keeps the gang members sharp in case of future violence.
Threat is the livelihood of gangs it is the origin of, growth of, causes the daily activity of, and the belief system of gangs.
Threat enables gang members to act in violence that the members would not normally consider doing.
Definition of contagion subsequent acts of violence caused by an initial act of such acts typically takes the form of retaliation.
The need to respond to rival gang violence escalates weaponry and increases the need to
“Violence is the factor that spreads gangs from one neighborhood to another as well as contributing to their growth.” (Decker, 2001)
Spikes of violence occur for 3 reasons:
Spatial concentration of assaultive violence
Escalations in assaultive violence
Escalations in assaultive violence
Apply to use of concept of threat in explaining gangs
They claim specific territory as their own and will be committed to defending it from outsides. If someone from a rival gang comes on the territory it invokes a fight (war) between the gangs.
The fear of retaliation is three times more likely to characterize gang homicides than other homicides involving juveniles. This causes the need for sophistication in weapons. The threat of attack is what caused youths to feel the need to protect the neighborhood. The spread of such beliefs is what brings such possibility of gangs.
In 1974, Short said there were theoretical links between gangs and group activities. He felt that gangs came from groups of teens that had activities that lacked organization. These teens were lacking belonging and this one thing gangs could give them. He also felt that the sense of conflict between gangs helped establish boundaries between groups and reinforce the ties between members.
Short also agreed with Pfautz that gang delinquency is expressive in nature. Gang violence is expressive in the nature that where one gang takes and believes that the rival gang has trespassed on its turf and it will do a drive by and shoot to kill or injure the other gang to get its point across to stay away from its neighborhood. Pfautz viewed gang violence as the outcome of group behavior; which in turn caused gangs to form. He felt that gangs lack structure, goals, and techniques but act on ties and bonds.
Pfautz felt that violent behavior is an expression to circumstances like poverty, racism, pressures of the underclass, etc. not a manhood expression. It is a way to organize a group around the neighborhood to protect it from rival gangs.
When a gang tries to collect upon a wrong it makes sure that the number of victims which is killed is more potential than the number that was killed by the rival gang in the drive by. This increases the potential for violence and increases the potential for needing to increase gang membership.
McPhail observation gang violence is a form of collective behavior it emerges from a group process involving common actions that have a defined purpose. He feels that the goals are either instrumental or expressive.
Decker and his assistant, Deitrich Smith was part of a team that did a three year study that asked questions to a group of 99 members of two gangs called Crips and Bloods. The members of the Crips were 67 of 99 and 32 were Bloods. Ten members claimed to be regular members or original gangsters. Sixteen of the gangs of the 29 gangs were Crips and 13 gangs were Bloods.
Decker feels that the field statistics cannot represent the sample due to the subjects carried in age considerable, the gang affiliation, activities, assuring, what one received information from variety of gang members. It is unlikely that it gives information about one part of a gang activity or that it follows a single group or person over a period of time.
Decker’s team was sensitive to the times and the dynamics gang relations of gangs of St. Louis for the study and incorporated the concerns into the way the team questioned the gang members over the time period.
He compared the responses that were recorded from the earlier time period to later stages and contacted some of the same gang members at the end of the study. He noted that not much change had occurred in the course of the study. There are six constellations 4 Crips and 2 Bloods. The Genevieve Thrush Posse is affiliated with the Rolling Sixties large gang of the Crips. But as was it was stated before there was no important difference.
Data for the three year study was done in 1990 – 1993 and done by Scott Decker and Assistant Scott Deitrich. The team consisted of six interviewers. Other research that was done was done by (Hagedorn 1988, 1991; Moore 1978; Padilla 1992; Vigil 1988). “These researchers used field techniques to understand gang member’s perspective.” (Decker, 2001)
Decker agrees with Hagedorn that one was able to contact the gang member from the community, on the streets and at neutral sites. One was able to learn the words and terms that the gang members used for the aged related peers. The ages of the gang members ranged from 13 to 29. The average time that the members that the interviewers had spoke with was three years. More than three fourths of the gang existed before the member joined. The gang had been in existence for at least six years.
The initial interviews showed acts of violence outside of gang relations is 80 percent with eight the average number of arrest per member with assaults with weapons. The gang classification occurs only by the gang members and is organized by the gang members, as well as motivated by the gang members, according to the text. (Decker, 2001) Interviewers were offered to accompany the gang members to go on a drive – by. One of the interviewers was also observed a drive – by on the way to pick up a member for an interview and interviewers were shown guns of different calibers on several different occasions when asked if he/she owned a gun. The numbers of violence of murder, assault, robbery, and drugs listed above are the activities mentioned by the gang members in the sampling.
My findings after reading the sampling of Decker’s report are that gangs retaliate over the drop of a hat. If a member feels that someone has trespassed on his gangs turf, crossed a line, done something against another member, or him/herself, the member or the gang will retaliate against the rival gang.
The escalation of violence seems to grow with each incident of a gang activity. If one happens to kill one person, then the rival gang has to kill two or more to prove his gang is better. The gang members do not have to have a real threat, it could be a possibility of a threat and the members are ready to recruit members across neighborhoods to stand against the rival gangs. The leadership is weak, lack structure, and the group stays together by the strong ties of the group willing to be there for one another. Several small gangs uniting together as one against another can be a big problem. This is a problem for a criminal justice when it comes to the teenagers joining these gangs.
The questions seemed to be valid questions due to it gave insight into the lives of the gang members and how the members felt about gang life. How the initiation came about and what part it satisfied in the person that the person was looking for when the person joined the gang. It answers why people join gangs and hopefully give insight on how to figure out what to fix in the adolescent world to keep kids away from gangs. The content validity was satisfied from the answers in the section on page 8 and 9 dealing with the average age to the percentage of arrest per member as well with the questions. The members of the gang answered many of the questions and with what the interviewers witnessed and documented the construct validity was valid, such as the drive -by shootings that was witnessed by the interviewer. The criterion validity, Decker compared his results to all previous results and defined them as being similar, so the results are valid.
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