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THE STRUGGLE YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE WITH GANG VIOLENCE, DRUGS, AND MUSIC

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TEENS SPEAKING OUT

TEENS SPEAKING OUT

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Definition of Gangs: The law enforcement’s definition of a gang is three or more individuals, juveniles and or adults, who associate on a continuous basis, form an allegiance for a common purpose, and are involved in delinquent or criminal activity. This definition is simple and functional. The gang may range from a loose knit group of individuals who hang around together and commit crimes together, to a formal organization with a leader or ruling council, gang colors, gang identifiers, and a gang name. Why Do Young People Join Gangs? Young people join gangs for a variety of reasons, some of which are the same reasons children join other pro-social groups such as 4-H and Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. The media have been saturated, in recent years, with articles on the troubles of today's teens: drugs, drinking, dropping out, pregnancy, gangs, violence in the schools, sexually transmitted diseases, poverty, racism, running away, suicide, AIDS, illiteracy, truancy. Today, personal frustration, failure, and fear are more likely to be contributing factors. "Nobody is listening, and nobody really cares," says Angie, 18. Violence and fear Overwhelmingly, students at Newton High point to violence and racism in school as their primary concerns. Their fears closely parallel the concerns expressed by teens nationwide. According to a study by the American Still, teenagers are most commonly perceived by the public as perpetrators of crime, according to an Oct. 1993 Gallup/CNN poll. Adults actually commit more crimes, statistics show; but criminal activity by youth, increasingly armed and more violent, invokes more fear, the poll showed. However, teens themselves are subject to fear of their peers. Many admit being afraid, at times, of even going to school. (A 1993 survey of 65,000 teens showed that 37 percent feel unsafe in school -- up from 22 percent in 1989.)

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