I remember going to meetings a few years back and if you dared mention the word gang it would be followed by sharp intakes of breath and challenges about racism. Apparently they did not exist in this country and I was racial stereotyping. Of course the reality was and is somewhat different and although we haven't quite reached USA levels, at least it (gangs) is allowed to be mentioned. This is because of the increase in drug related activity and the violence that comes with it. We should perhaps be more concerned about the younger elements involved in these gang structures as the levels of violence increase.
The increasing trend is the displaying of gang colours in the younger’s. Market forces are taking over and we're not talking about just Red and Blue. Black and even Brown are popular around my way and certain stalls are doing a roaring trade. I police a busy shopping centre where the youth like to strut their stuff. I've imposed a rule of no colours on display otherwise there would be trouble. Some of them are like little peacocks with their paisley patterned bandanna's hanging from their back pockets. In my day a handkerchief from your back pocket meant something totally different. I've run that line past them and they don't get it, but don't be fooled these are the big players of tomorrow.
I've had a few face to face run ins with some of them and the rules of engagement have been set. I think they appreciate the discipline deep down and haven't crossed the line in the sand, but for how long. It's a balancing act to maintain a nice vibe and ensure that everybody gets their due respect. Their criminal activity is youth robbery and juvenile violence amongst their age group. The usual pattern is for this to escalate up against adult victims before they become involved in drug dealing and more serious crime.
As they are children and coming to my notice this involves some writing for me. They are a risk to others and may themselves fall victim to another gang if a look is taken the wrong way. I was filling a report out the other day about one lad. There were a number of historic ones and I read them back to see his story. He was getting progressively worse in his offending despite having a supportive mother and being on diversion programmes from the youth offending team. What makes them turn this way?
I looked at the first ever report and it showed the lad himself was a victim of robbery committed by older youths. A couple of years later and he's doing exactly the same. I predict the future for him is not good. The help is there and being offered but with some you can tell it's just a waste of time. I don't do psychology but this would be an interesting case study don't you think?