The characteristics of gang youth may be closer to home than you think…
- No sense of the future.
- Living in survival mode.
- Do not care if engaged in future-wrecking behavior.
- Do not care about school because it is too future-oriented.
- Need hope just for tomorrow.
- A job and bills to pay orients you to the future and gives you hope.
Living a painful life and lifestyle, they see no possibility of change. A job is a brand new possibility and essential to self-esteem and a sense of control over one’s life.
Their significant others make them feel insignificant. Father-absent/mother-absent homes produce pain and rage. Graffiti is an attempt by the unrecognized to gain recognition. New significant others must place value on these youths, recognizing the dignity that is already theirs.
Where this exists, gangs hold a financial monopoly over youth. Many join for spending money. A job breaks this stranglehold and is respected by other gang members.
1ST GENERATION IMMIGRANTS
The cultural gap between old country parents and new country youth is vast and often unbridgeable. Many of these youths join gangs for understanding. New responsible adults must offer understanding.
For the love and respect that youth deserve yet don’t receive, the gang becomes a perverse substitute family, demanding evil for acceptance. With hearts already filled with pain and rage over their own rejection, unloved youth are only too ready to engage in violent and criminal behavior. New significant others must love and accept these youths as they are, and offer them the opportunity to become part of a new family, God’s family.
ANGER AT SOCIETY
All the above wounds create a deep anger misdirected at society because it is too painful to believe that one was unloved and given no rightful place in the world. Caring adults must provide the love that was never there, and a job, so that a youth finds a rightful place to harness his energies for the benefit of his own life.
TOO MUCH IDLE TIME
…too many irresponsible adults. With nothing constructive to do, the youth will do nothing constructive. With no responsible role models in their lives, these youths will not become responsible. New significant others and a job put youth in touch with responsible adult role models.