This I Believe

Hector - Neptune, New Jersey
Entered on October 23, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: community

Trying to Find Peace

How can society prevent young adults from becoming affected by gang-related violence? This has been a question that has troubled me for sometime. I have first-hand experience with gang-related violence, and I almost failed to live through the experience. Gang-related violence is a problem in my home town of Asbury Park, N.J. I have been beaten up and stabbed by gang members even though I was not in a rival gang, but simply because I became guilty by association with some friends. The situation really hurt me physically and mentally because I could not understand the meaning behind this heinous act of violence. This I believe is a serious situation that could possibly lead to the down fall of urban society.

Where does the inhuman anger towards other teens and authority figures stem from in the minds and hearts of gang members? I believe it is because they feel a royal strength when they are part of a group. Maybe it’s more popularity or protection or to simply feel wanted or needed? Maybe adolescents just don’t have anything to do to release their anger or stress for more constructive purposes. I wish the people in my community could do something about the gang violence before it spreads to neighboring communities. They shouldn’t be affected by our negligence to the issue. The local government and police seem to have given up on eradicating the threat to society by gangs because the gang members are no longer afraid to fight back. Also, authority figures such as cops fail to realize by trying to tell young adults what they should or should not do, simply adds fuel to the fire. I understand their effort, but they are taking the wrong approach on how to prevent the innocent from falling victim and the gang initiations teens get drawn into.

The dangers of gangs are steadily increasing across America. The stats on gangs are alarming. According to researchers Arlen Egley, Jr. and Christina E. Ritz, “760,000 gang members and 24,000 gangs were active in more than 2,400 jurisdictions in cities across America.” These statistics date from 1999-2004. The cities surveyed in the studies had a population of at least 2,500. This is a huge number, a number that signifies the amount of violence that may occur in American societies. The question that remains is why? Why does it seem as if no one is doing anything about it?

The increase affects me because it is happening so close to home. Gang related violence is a terrible epidemic, but I see hope that there are organizations that are trying to help. Organizations such as The Boys and Girls Club in my community shine light on this dark issue. The club allows individuals to spend their time there to play sports or talk to counselors and vent their personal issues.