Why do youth join gangs? Gangs are one of the main problems in California, but it is especially a problem in Oakland due to young teens joining them for various reasons and doing violent crimes in them.

To begin, gangs are a huge issue in Oakland and one of the main reasons it’s a problem is because of youth being peer pressured into gangs. In the article “How Does Peer Pressure Influence Teens to be in Gangs”, by Stephen Maughan, he explains that some of the main reasons adolescents join gangs are because they want to be popular and feel like the belong somewhere. The author states, many gangs seem attractive to teens because the gangs seem cool and popular, and they give teens an opportunity to attend parties and socialize and meet members of the opposite sex” (Maughan). What this quote is trying to say is that teens can socialize and meet new people through gangs.

Another reason Adolescents join gangs are because they have low self-esteem and they want to feel like they’re in power. ”Gangs can boost feelings of belonging and self-esteem, and vulnerable teenagers may join gangs to boost their self-esteem because being a gang member can give them feelings of power and influence”(Maughan). This quote states that teens who don’t have much confidence can boost their confidence by joining gangs.

A different reason that youth join gangs is to have a sense of belonging because they have no one to listen to them at home. In another article about a former gang member she says she joined the gang because her parents did not listen to her “ They didn’t try to understand me. It was a strict household: My parents were always right and I was always wrong. They wouldn’t stick up for me when I got in trouble at school. They never really took the time to listen to my problems; instead they criticized me. They never tried to understand where I was coming from or asked me if something was bothering me.” This shows that she had joined the gang because she wanted to feel like she was heard. It also states that she did not feel heard from her family before.

 

       When I interviewed Arjen Tomboc I asked him 6 questions that were all related to gangs.

Q: How long have you been living in Oakland?

A: 8 years

Q: How many gang members do you think are in Oakland?

A: Over 1000. No it doesn’t surprise me that there are over 10000.

Q: How do you feel about gangs in oakland?

A: I feel like, obviously they are a bad thing, they are a very negative part of oakland. But at the same time I feel like they shape oakland and give it a strong sense of power.

Q: Why do you think teens and younger kids join gangs?

A: Well it depends, sometimes they do it because their family doesn’t support them or they just want to be a part of something that doesn’t control them or their lives.

Q: What do you think Oakland can do to make sure teens so not join gangs and stay on the right track?

A: They can give them better treatment or benefits that usually make them want to be a part of the community.

 

       I had also interviewed my mom the same questions, but her response was a bit different

Q: How long have you been living in Oakland?

A: 14 years

Q: How many gang members do you think are in Oakland?

A: 10000. Yes it does surprise me I thought there were less gang members.

Q:How do you feel about gangs in Oakland?

A: I feel like it’s a group of dumb kids wasting their lives when they have so much potential to do something with their lives.

Q: Do you think gangs are a problem in Oakland?

A: Yes because a lot of innocent people get hurt or killed by gang problems they had nothing to do with.

Q: Why do you think teens and younger kids join gangs?

A: Maybe they’re looking for someone to accept them or maybe they don’t have anyone to look up to do they try to find someone to look up too but they look in the wrong places.

Q: What do you think Oakland can do to make sure teens and younger kids don’t join gangs?

A: Create more after school programs or put them in sports.

 

        In conclusion this shows that young kids and teens join gangs because of various reasons and peer pressure.

 

Photo by U.S. Marshals Service

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Gangs in Oakland by Adrian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

6 Comments
  1. Chelsea 10 months ago

    Adrian,

    I was really intrigued by your topic. I like that it helps give a voice to the teenagers who end up in gangs because of issues of feeling unheard or overlooked, like when you mentioned the girl who said:

    ” They didn’t try to understand me.”…”My parents were always right and I was always wrong.”…”They never really took the time to listen to my problems”…”They never tried to understand where I was coming from or asked me if something was bothering me.”

    I feel like that is a big issue today; teenagers are often ignored and brushed off by adult which causes them to search for acceptance elsewhere. People need to speak up for those without a voice. As you mentioned, many of those individuals who joined gangs did so for some type of attention or fulfillment they were not getting elsewhere.

    Interviewing two different community members was a really interesting idea for this piece, it gave more perspective to your story. It could also be interesting to interview either a high school student or a community member (like a store clerk) from that area to see a third-party perspective from someone who has to deal with both high school students and gang members on a regular basis.

    Overall, your piece was really interesting. I hope I see more of your work in the future.

    Chelsea

  2. MIguel 11 months ago

    Dear Adrian,
    I am thrilled about your post, “Gangs in Oakland,” because it brings back memories of my old friends joined gangs because of family problems, but I dont think its not only family problems, it’s also problems in schools. The reason why I left my friends is because i was they weren’t paying attention to me ,so I had to move on and leave them. If I was smart i’ll probably be in the streets and not writing this.
    One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is “Many gangs seem attractive to teens because the gangs seem cool and popular, and they give teens an opportunity to attend parties and socialize and meet members of the opposite sex.” I think this is nice because my friends that are teens joined gangs so there names could be in the street, they wanted to be known. The also think they could do anything they want because they have people protecting their backs.
    Another sentence that alerted me was: “In the article “How Does Peer Pressure Influence Teens to be in Gangs”, by Stephen Maughan, he explains that some of the main reasons adolescents join gangs are because they want to be popular and feel like the belong somewhere.” This stood out for me because I did a similar project in my school, I did a survey on students from my school asking questions based on Oakland gangs.
    I do strongly agree with you that teens join gangs so they could get popular.One reason I say this because one of my old friends is in a gang and his known in the streets. Another reason I agree with you is teens get to meet a lot of people, but they only meet
    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because I enjoyed reading your post. I also look forward to come back because you caught my attention by the part where you asked questions. Don’t join gangs or don’t do drugs because they don’t help you end up in good places. Stay in school and BECOME SOMEONE DON’T FOLLOW NO ONE.

    Sincerely,
    Miguel

  3. Clarisa 11 months ago

    Dear Adrian,
    I agree with you that gangs in oakland are a big issue. What stood out for me was not that you interviewed Arjen Tomboc but that you also interviewed your mom I thought that was really cool that you got two peoples opinion. Another thing that stood out to me was when you talked about kids in oakland gangs on there self of steam levels like in the sentence ” Adolescents join gangs are because they have low self-esteem and they want to feel like they’re in power. One thing I don’t fully understand is why do kids think violence is the way to go to get attention? Thanks for your writing! I look forward to seeing you what you write next because I agree with your writing.

  4. Calvin He 11 months ago

    Dear Adrian,

    I agree with your post, “Gangs in Oakland,” because there are many underaged teens that are pressured to join a gang and it’s a big problem, especially in Oakland. One sentence you wrote that stood out to me is: “Another reason Adolescents join gangs are because they have low self-esteem and they want to feel like they’re in power.” I agree with this statement because gang members are pressured to do what the gang leader wants and shows off a demonstration of power to empower others to join a gang. Having low self-esteem makes others feel powerless which makes them become something they’re not by fitting in as a gang member. The picture you used was also interesting because many teens are being arrested under the age of 18, and are wrongfully committed into doing crimes because of the pressure of this “gang”. The police should be digging deeper into the gang situation and taking responsibility for providing them support so they won’t be in a mess like this again. Thank you for writing this article about gangs in Oakland. I look forward to seeing what you write next because I see a lot of effort in your writing from your sources such as interviews and articles online, and your critical thinking.

  5. Darriven 11 months ago

    Dear Adrian, I am flattered by your post. Gangs in oakland is bad and someone should do something about them. – Darrive 🙂

    • Author
      Adrian 10 months ago

      Dear Darriven thanks for commenting on my article and by the way how are you doing today?

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