Gang culture

Why do young people join gangs?

There are many reasons why young people may feel the pressure to join gangs. They may feel attracted to the status and power it can give them or they may be bored and are looking for forms of excitement.

Additional reasons

A sense of "family" - Young people might feel that they don't receive enough support or the right attention at home. They may be trying to escape a negative home life, or may be looking for a father figure. Gangs often make promises to give unconditional support and to become the "family" they never had.

Need for food or money - Gangs may present themselves as a means of survival to youth who lack basic essentials such as food, clothing and shelter. More and more, gang members use their affiliation to make a profit through illegal activities, such as selling drugs and auto theft.

Desire for protection - Communities with high gang activity often see young people join a gang just to survive. It is often easier to join the gang than to remain vulnerable and unprotected in their neighbourhoods.

Peer pressure - Kids and teens face constant pressure to fit in, and they may not have the support they need to avoid the pressures to join a gang. Peer pressure can come in the form of intimidation, coercion, a dare, harassment, friendly persuasion, or repetitious begging.

Family history or tradition - Families can have gang involvement spanning over multiple generations. This is one of the toughest forms of pressure to escape, as the gang lifestyle is deeply rooted in family traditions and values.

Excitement - Some young people get a rush out of defying authority, or committing crimes. They may be attracted to the gang lifestyle, as it lives outside the law and participates in many illicit behaviours.

To appear cool - Gangs have mastered the art of manipulation to attract potential recruits. They wear the latest fashion trends, throw the hottest parties, and drive the coolest cars. They can appear to have the 'perfect' lifestyle to a young kid who's looking to fit in somewhere. The offer an image of "cool" that has been glorified by the media and entertainment industry.