- Background to the problem
- Gang background in Chicago
- Problem statement
- Reasons behind gang violence
- Unemployment dilemma
- Harsh economic circumstances
- Poor planning/ overcrowding and parenting behaviors
- Socio-economic disparities
- Youth pressures
- Possible solutions to avert gang violence
- Works Cited
As the world strives to achieve maximum economic growth to accommodate the growing needs of gradually surging populace, criminality is constantly becoming a contentious issue across the entire globe and its ramifications are eminent in both developed and developing nations. With the world of globalization and industrialization marred with significantly numerous socio-economic challenges cutting across all economies, the trend of criminal offences is gradually intensifying.
Moreover, a constant migration trend that has characterized urbanization in the contemporary world seems to be increasingly becoming a challenge for social and city planners, with little evidence revealing ways of averting the situation1.
Urban violence, drug trafficking, and youth restlessness are arguably becoming controversial public affairs, but several governments across all economies keep on underestimating their consequences. Despite extensive academic literature persistently discussing gang violence, social and city planners seem to fall short of possible ideas to avert this menace. This essay uncovers gang violence in the south side of Chicago while providing possible approaches.
Background to the problem
The over raging debates surrounding the issues of urban insecurity seems to be overwhelmingly taking a different shape with each of the concerned security departments controversially passing blames on each other.
The entire United States failed to pass stringent policies that would control immigration and migration trends, failed to provide substantial means of interactively engaging youth in community development, failed to provide the surging youth population with adequate employment and finally failed to provide austere and strategic policies and regulations that govern cities and towns.
Streaming from a background of city overcrowding, poor traffic control measures, illegal immigration, industrial growth and the urge for commercialized environment, the entire United States of America, and other European countries are currently facing criminal challenges2.
The pursuit of having powerful states of commercialized environment and government ignorance seems to be posing critical urban security challenges to numerous populations in United States3. Nonetheless, a constant shift from security problems is becoming eminent by the overwhelming quest for economic expansion.
For the past four consecutive decades, the nature of criminal activities has become a persistent issue with the academic literature and government sources setting much attention to the criminal gangs in the US. The propagation of dangerous youth gangs that became much serious since 1980 has increased public trepidation and enhanced possible misconception amongst the government authorities.
Its was as early as 1970s when youth gangster problem started becoming a public concern like a modern fashion as youths continuously engaged in gang activities to feel accepted, increase their self esteem and even attain certain status as argued by numerous studies4.
Comprehensive investigation undertaken by the U. S. Department of Education and Department of Justice revealed that approximately 37% of students assessed in the year 1995, indicated gangster presence in schools. It doubled the amount of percentage expressed in several reports and studies undertaken nearly half a decade before, precisely in 1988 and 1989.
In more unrelenting manner, in the mid 20th century the public has witnessed augmented insecurity issues with debates overriding public domain precisely being the state of insecurity resulting from youth groups who seem more armed than earlier. During this epoch, youth gangsters gradually developed into uncontrollable groups with evidence suggesting that the roots to this problem began with territorial violence where organized crime groups led by adult gangs interactively engaged in bootlegging and gambling activities5.
As stated by numerous literal sources, a serious dawn for youth rampancy began in the 20th centuries, where minor youth groups gradually started forming more serious gang groups, engaging in serious criminal activities than just mere street fights.
Unfortunately, this century marked the highest number of criminal problems reported through the media and even in government periodicals. It was during this moment that criminality in the US reached its peak with crime report data reporting approximately 20% of youth were the causes of all fatalities and felonies of homicide.
Gang background in Chicago
Tourists alike, admit that Chicago in the United States remains a no go zone, with cases of civil crime, homicide, youth prostitution, gang migration, drugs and violence persistently dominating the vicinity. Perhaps giving a shallow insight into the historical setting of Chicago can best explain where the gangster insecurity issues bear the backdrop.
Chicago is the third largest city around United States with an estimated population of three million civilians. Just as postulated earlier that the status of criminal offensiveness among youth began augmenting in 20th century, similar phenomenon lies behind the case of Chicago where massive immigrants from Eastern Europe penetrated into Chicago6.
It is among the America’s commercialized hub that began industrialization process quite early when business tycoons ventured into steel manufacturing among other businesses. Subsequently Chicago witnessed a growing migration trend characterized by a swift move by African American migrants and the Mexican immigrants who chased for well-paying jobs in the interior of Chicago, consequently resulting to adverse insecurity matters.
Chicago has remained vibrantly active in the research and development and one of the key issues discussed in numerous studies is the issue of insecurity with ominous activities including drug trafficking, violent crime and youth restlessness, contently discussed. Streaming from 1990, the most threatening gang that consumed discussions of several studies was the scavenger gang, which later renamed itself as the territorial gang, the moment when war against ethnic wrangles posed great social challenge to the entire United States.
From the scavenger gang as demonstrated by7 prior studies undertaken by the corporate criminal gang abruptly emerged and managed to consolidate over 42 gang members who terrorized the entire Chicago streets, turning the region into a gangster zone.
The Chicago vice loads and drug-dealing Puerto Rican gang are among the youth and adult gang groups who managed to dominate Chicago for long with evolving from tiny street gang, pickpockets to serial homicide groups, which have constantly caused mayhem to the later.
The issue behind criminality has been a controversial problem between the city planners, the federal state government, and the public. The state of gang violence that has persistently engaged in criminal offences including illicit drug trafficking, arms trafficking and violent homicides have constantly increased in the 20th century, consequently creating public tension across Chicago.
Despite several interventions by governmental and non-governmental organizations to avert the spread of gang violence across Chicago and other American streets, the situation seems to be gradually increasing as proliferation of armed gangs with lethal weapons augments to unprecedented levels.
Crime in Chicago is currently affecting the economic status of several dwellers with sources indicating that business investors and companies are steadily shutting down each successive year following the intensifying gang proliferation that hampers their corporate growth.
Several government ministries have suffered this menace with tourists considering Chicago as a dangerous zone. Central to gang violence, this study examines possible reasons behind gang violence and provides some strategies to help social and city planners in forestalling this problem.
Reasons behind gang violence
A problem arising from any given community or group in any particular region must always posses underlying factors. The emergence of gangster groups in Chicago as postulated before resulted from ethnic differences and territorial conflict during the historical background of violence.
However, with this and much rationale behind gang violence several other social and economic issues constantly contributed to the escalating gang violence in Chicago. Several factors might have elicited the growth and development of gang violence in Chicago and United States in general, though the nature and extent of gang violence vary from one region to another depending on underlying social and economic influences8.
Chicago is one of the states in the US that has a huge population of varied ethnic backgrounds, a reason that may describe the causal factors behind gang violence as multiple and complex. Nonetheless, unemployment, harsh economic circumstances, poor planning/ overcrowding, social, and economic disparities and even youth pressures form prospectus reasons behind gang violence in Chicago.
One of the most contemporary problems facing not only United States or even Chicago, but also the entire globe is the growing youth unemployment relative to the constantly growing population. For the past three consecutive decades, the entire United States has suffered from increased unemployment status, with the federal government failing to provide meaningful lifetime employment to the constantly growing populace in Chicago.
Dramatic increases in unemployment among some adults and numerous youths in Chicago between 19th and 20th centuries seem to be posing a looming danger on both the future economic status as well as the current insecurity problem. A study conducted by 9can best explain the existing relationship between gang membership and unemployment.
According to this study, only 17 percent of gang members had jobs while almost 66 percent were jobless. Due to the prevailing unemployment circumstances in Chicago, drug barons and the existing drug markets have become sole job providers to the unoccupied youths and displaced adult workers with hoodwinking promises for better economic stance.
Harsh economic circumstances
While the globe fights against economic challenges, which became eminently threatening in the 20th century bearing the characteristics of high inflation and dramatic fluctuations and changes in the financial market, Chicago has as well felt the repercussions of such economic problems. The decline in manufacturing jobs, poor agricultural yields, adverse environmental alterations, and development of technological restricting across the US has had numerous economic challenges since the advent of 19th century10.
The value of the dollar has constantly been suffering global competition across for the past one decade leading to adverse financial crunches across the United States.
Such unpleasant changes in the global and regional economic conditions have lead to poor and undesirable living standards that force youth and unemployed individuals across Chicago to opt for treacherous economic activities including drug trafficking, weapon business, gang violence and other risky activities.
Since the international global financial crunch, Chicago has suffered deeply given the surged population that comprises most of the unemployed civilians.
Poor planning/ overcrowding and parenting behaviors
The house planning and arrangement in Chicago, characterized with low standard houses in several parts of this region has provided a conducive environment for the gangster members and groups to exercise their malicious deeds. Truly, the city or urban planning scheme in the entire United States might have favored other states, but not Chicago.
The housing situation characterized by overcrowded dope houses in Chicago seems to be attracting all sort of evil and plays an important role in protecting gangsters and enables easy trafficking of illegal substances including lethal weapons and drugs.
As socio-economic challenges become invariable problems to the civilians in Chicago become clearer with little intervention from the federal government, the state of poverty otherwise seems to be rapidly growing, raising growth and development problems to children in poor families11. Family related matters including poor youth discipline, inadequate parental support, family dysfunction, poor parental accountability among other family related issues are the root causes to youth gangster involvement in Chicago.
The history behind socio-economic disparities between Native white Americans and the Negro white or Mexican American immigrants seem to be quite extensive and has always proven to be a contentious matter throughout successive political years. A growing cadre “of researchers is highlighting broad social and economic phenomena such as exclusion, marginalization, rapid social change, and lack of opportunities as the central determinants shaping the contemporary emergence of gangs”12.
Chicago is one of the states in the US that encompasses varied population of different ethnic backgrounds and sources have always linked the prevailing gangster problem with the socio-economic differences between Native Americans and other immigrants.
A research conducted by13 reveal that foreigners in the US have always suffered from social, economic, and political discrepancies as compared to the Native Americans who are currently occupying life-sustaining professions, clearly indicating socio-economic inequalities. Given the prevailing inequality condition in socio-economic differences, communities in Chicago tend to find possible ways to gain socio-economic equity, a quest that pushes people to gang violence.
One of the most threatening trends in the development of youth gangs across Chicago is the pace at which youngsters are rapidly engaging in youth gang violence and prostitution. Youth gangs have always presented a continuous challenge to the safety and violence prevention strategies in school.
Youth hood in Chicago seems to be influencing the environment in terms of security14. Several studies have emerged and concluded that youth groups normally evolve into dangerous gang groups with evidence revealing that youth engage in gangster groups to attain certain status, feel communally accepted, and increase self-esteem15.
The growing behavior in youth peer influence is even becoming difficult for families and communities to contain with research indicating that students have also been interacting with gangsters and execute some of the gang activities in the absence of their parents. With the rapidly growing drug market full of heroin and cocaine, youth have been dropping out of school to occupy the marketable jobs as participants in the drug distribution networks.
Possible solutions to avert gang violence
In a bid to address the growing gang violence, the community surrounding Chicago and must cooperate with the government and other stakeholders willing to play a role in averting gang violence. First, for the city planners, stringent laws including life incarceration among others must prevail in Chicago if the war against drug trafficking must stop.
Law enforcement agencies should redesign laws, policies, and regulations governing business activities across Chicago and the entire US. It is also important for regional planners to reconsider their house planning and designing to enhance security and avoid overcrowding which provides gangsters with hiding sites.
The regional planners must be competent in delivering their problems to the federal government to help channel their problems in a more coherent manner16. Security officers and drug intelligent persons should undertake a forensic search in intervals to lynch drug dealer from suppliers or peddlers to consumers. School administrators should develop a routine for investigating gangsters in school, which will it easier for them to reach the old gangsters in a more decent approach.
Other important actors in averting gang violence are the social workers who have become reluctant in addressing important problems in Chicago due to insecurities posed by the prevailing dominance of gangsters who scare policy makers with intimidations. For the social workers operating in United States and especially those in Chicago, the quest to change the social shape of this region must be the priority amongst them17.
For social workers, they should commence with a comprehensive research and development program that enable them uncover the underlying factors in gang violence. Combined with the results of the research work and other common sense factors, they will be able to understand the causal factors of gang violence.
The research will also aid in conducting a needs assessment study to examine the possible economical and social challenges affecting Chicago residents in order to determine possible material support. At the outset, they should use all possible ways to communicate to the community especially the youngsters about the dangers posed by gang related activities including drug trafficking, arms business among others.
Secondly, as the hunt for criminals and gangsters intensifies, social workers on the other hand should deploy skilled, powerful, and influential guidance team that will involve psychologists, counselors, and social workers to propel campaigns against gangster behaviors drug traffics and arm trafficking members.
Possibly, through pamphlets, newspapers, television programs, and face-to-face campaigns that will enhance information on negative consequences of drug and gang activities will give much aid18. Finally, the entire community plays a significant role in social development and therefore there contribution is essential.
Communities must engage in serious campaigns against gang violence, enhance on communal togetherness to reduce racial discrimination, and develop community policies, which will scare away gangsters from Chicago, thus creating a safe environment.
For the entire government reforms, security must prevail to enable security officials to provide more territorial protection from insurgents, drug barons, and illegal immigrants who elicit gangster activities by promising youth stable life sustaining jobs in drug trafficking. The government should provide youths with jobs and business incentives.
As the pursuit for economic growth and social development increases in the US, gang violence is proving dangerous each single day. Empirical evidence links the history of gang violence in Chicago with the advent of high immigration trends of 19th and 20th that increased population and insecurity19.
The causes of gang violence in Chicago are diverse depending on several circumstances. The urge to attain socio-economic equity, coupled with the growing rate of unemployment among, the tormenting harsh economic conditions, and poor urban planning that is eminent in Chicago, gang violence remains a constant challenge.
However, to help in averting the looming gang violence menace, four groups of actors are equally important in this case including the entire federal government, the city planners and lawmakers, the social workers in Chicago and the entire community in Chicago20.
For the government, as law and policymakers strive to improve laws governing Chicago and the other stages, improving territorial security, offering youth jobs/ business incentives is imperative. Social workers must struggle to change the social image of Chicago as the community cooperates
Anderson, Elijah. Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990. Print.
Block, Carolyn. “Lethal violence in the Chicago Latino community.” Homicide: The Victim/Offender Connection. Ed. Victoria Wilson. Cincinnati: Anderson, 1993. 267-342. Print.
Bullock, Karen, and Nick Tilley. “Understanding and tackling gang violence.” Crime Prevention and Community Safety 10.1 (2008): 36-47. Print.
Esbensen, Finn-Aage, and Frank Weerman. “Youth Gangs and Troublesome Youth Groups in the United States and the Netherlands: A Cross-National Comparison.” European Journal of Criminology 2.1 (2005): 5-37. Print.
Howell, James. Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs, Pennsylvania: DIANE Publishing, 2011. Print.
Jütersonke, Oliver, Robert Muggah, and Dennis Rodgers. “Gangs and Violence Reduction in Central America.” Security Dialogue 40.5 (2009): 1-25. Print.
Kelling, George, and James Wilson. “Broken windows: The police and neighborhood safety.” The Atlantic 1 Mar. 1982: 46-47. Print.
Perkins, Eugene. Explosion of Chicago’s Black Street Gangs: 1900 to the Present, Chicago: Third World Press, 1987. Print.
Spergel, Irving. The Youth Gang Problem: A community Approach, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.
1 Karen Bullock and Nick Tilley. “Understanding and tackling gang violence.” Crime Prevention and Community Safety 10.1 (2008): p.42.
2 Finn-Aage Esbensen and Frank Weerman. “Youth Gangs and Troublesome Youth Groups in the United States and the Netherlands: A Cross-National Comparison.” European Journal of Criminology 2.1(2005): p.13.
3 Eugene, Perkins. Explosion of Chicago’s Black Street Gangs: 1900 to the Present. Chicago, IL: Third World Press, 1987.p.115.
4Oliver Jütersonke, et al. “Gangs and Violence Reduction in Central America.” Security Dialogue 40.5 (2009): p.15.
5 Perkins, p.76.
6Irvin Spergel. The Youth Gang Problem: A Community Approach, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. p. 92.
7 Ibid. p. 105.
8 Bullock and Tilley, p.45.
9 Jütersonke et al. p. 25.
11 Jütersonke et al. p.25.
12 Ibid, p.20.
13 Elijah Anderson. Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990. p. 81.
14George Kelling and James Wilson. “Broken windows: The police and neighborhood safety.” The Atlantic 1 Mar. 1982: p.47.
15 James Howell. Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs. Pennsylvania: DIANE Publishing, 2011. p.64.
16 Carolyn Block. “Lethal violence in the Chicago Latino community.” Homicide: The Victim/Offender Connection. Ed. Victoria Wilson. Cincinnati: Anderson, 1993. p.330.
18 Bullock and Tilley, p.46.
19Howell, p. 88.
20Anderson, p. 129.