Reasons for Joining Gangs

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By avmaxfield
Words 986
Pages 4
Aaron Maxfield
COU 617 Counseling Children and Adolescents
Dr. Lawrence Rubin
Capstone Module 4

People join gangs for many reasons, not least to fulfill the universal needs among young people for status, identity and companionship. There is some evidence to suggest low self-esteem has a significant relationship with the characteristic features of gang membership: aggression, antisocial and offending behavior. Other important psychological motivations contributing to gang membership include the need for money, protection against victimization, connectedness to others in the gang, the need for status and respect, and excitement (Madden, 2013). As a former probation officer, I was able to supervise and form relationships with a significant amount of gang members. I was able to see firsthand the risk factors that circle around the neighborhoods where gang activity was prevalent. Gang membership doesn’t just appear in a vacuum. There are so many different forces at play and risk factors that coincide with mental health problems in these environments including: low-income households, unemployment, use of illicit substances, low parental involvement, low educational attainment, and involvement in the criminal justice system.
As a therapist, I realize there will be numerous mental health issues that will be challenging. There appears to be a high prevalence of conduct and antisocial personality disorders among the gang membership population. Violence before age 15 that persists into adulthood is one of criteria for the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. It is also known that violence and offending behavior escalate during gang membership and early behavior problems are significant factor for prolonged gang involvement (Hill, Liu, & Hawkins, 2001).
When counseling gang members in the past, I was always aware of how much anxiety these…...

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