Peel Regional Police have released a Fact sheet about what Street Gangs are and what influences teens to be a part of them.
Police say there are 6 main reasons why youth decide to join a street gang. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common age for youth to join a gang is between 13 and 15 years old
Police say that the gangs have been in existence for centuries. The modern version is a new phenomenon with significant effects on Canada’s youth.
There are commonly 6 reasons, Police say and are usually associated to needs not met at home.
1. IDENTITY: A drive to an individual and express themselves. A youth wanting to express themselves and be an individual might seek out a gang life. The reality is, there are no individuals in a gang, only rules to follow, including what clothes to wear and what friends to have.
2. DISCIPLINE:Believe it or not, a youth might be looking for structure and routine. But unlike in a nurturing family, breaking the rules in a gang brings harsh and violent discipline.
3. RECOGNITION:A youth might be looking for a way to be recognized as an individual. Police emphasize that being in a gang only brings about recognition from rival gangs and police. Gangs are run on fear and members have to commit crimes to intimidate other gang members.
4. LOVE:A youth may be looking for attention and to fulfill a desire or need to be appreciated. Gangs don’t work like loving families, though, they demand members sacrifice for the whole, according to police.
5. BELONGING:A youth may be looking for a sense of belonging to a ‘family.’ It might appear that a gang is just one big supportive family, but gang members make more enemies than friends. And the enemies they make may want to hurt them, or kill them.
6. MONEY:A youth may think they can make a lot of money in a gang. The reality is, most gang members make very little money, and those who do usually end up in jail. Police say most of the money goes to the leaders of the gang. Dropping out of school and/or having a criminal record will also limit their ability to move on and make money in the future.