The myth that it is impossible for young girls from predominately wealthy families to be drawn into gang culture is exactly that, a myth. Children from all socioeconomic backgrounds glamorize gang culture for many of the same reasons. As stated in a program on the History Channel, From Girl to Gangster: Gangland, these reasons may include but are not limited to
- Being influenced by the media
- Wanting to be accepted and make friends
- Having “gang” status
- Feeling like they have power and protection
- Using narcotics and/or alcohol
To watch “From Girl to Gangster: Gangland” go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo1Kpx517fI
What keeps these girls engaged?
Many girls are attracted to the “bad boy” lifestyle. They are looking for excitement and a thrill, a life to escape to outside of their own. In turn, their fascination and curiosity sweeps them up into the gangster culture. These girls are then given “gang status,” not as a member, but as an associate. Their new social affiliation to this “rebellious” lifestyle makes them feel cool. They believe that by having gang status they will be protected by the gang.
How are the girls used?
Drug trafficking: Gangsters know that many of these girls either have no criminal record or have few run-ins with the law. They usually attend private schools and are in good economic standing. Gangsters will use them to stash narcotics and illegal weapons because they fly so far beneath police radar.
- Go-betweens: This means to carry-out or mediate deals between two parties. Gangsters are easily identifiable to law enforcement in the areas in which they reside. It is safer for them to use these girls to close or help mediate a deal.
- Sexual violence and exploitation: Girls are used for sexual favors for the gang members themselves. They are often sexually involved with several members of the gang. By being sexually involved with gang members, this makes girls more susceptible to gang rapes and other variations of sexual abuse (An Introduction to Gangs, Knox, p. 323).
Dr. George W. Knox, Ph.D. writes in An Introduction to Gangs of a young affluent girl’s experience when she got involved with a gang.
The girl was 20 years old and the daughter of a District Superintendant of a school system. She had all the perks a young person could ask for: nice clothes, credit cards, a car, etc. The one thing her family did not offer her was the excitement of the street gang that she had become familiar with through narcotic sales. After becoming a regular customer, she began to spend more of her time hanging out with the gang. She began engaging in sexual relations with many of the male members during the two months she spent with the gang. This earned her a “gang associate” status. She became comfortable with her new status and challenged a female member in a dispute over sexual relations with the leader of the gang, saying that the leader of the gang preferred her over the other female member. This particular female member and the other female bystanders had “gang status” in the gang and felt they had the right to viciously attack her. The female gang members tied and gagged her, threatened her with a chain saw, locked her in a closet, and eventually smashed her skull in with a piece of cement, wired a manhole cover to her feet, and tossed her body into a channel.
There is no simple solution to preventing a child from joining a gang, but good communication and trust are key elements to keeping your child safe from gang culture.
- Never assume that it’s not your child.
- Talk to your child; keep an open and honest relationship with her.
- Identify positive role models with your child.
- Know who your child’s friends are and who she is hanging out with at all times.
- Educate yourself and your child on gangs.
- Follow up on your child’s story. If she says she’s sleeping over at a friend’s, call and speak with the friend’s parents.
- Keep your child involved. If your child is active in extra-curricular activities they will have less time to associate with gangs.
For more safety tips and gang awareness go to, http://www.wiredsafety.org/internet101/blogs.html