A youth gang is not a new issue. It was prevalent for a decade. Lots of youth fall into the prey of youth gangs and ruined their life. A youth gang is an organized group of young peoples, who rely on group intimidation and violence, involve in criminal acts to gain power or recognition. (Canada, 2018). It is anti-social behaviour and creates chaos in the community. Youth are joining the gang because of tensions, unhealthy parent’s relationships, and lack of opportunity, neglect, and abuse. There is research saying that 93% of youths are joining the gang because they have been abused as children or they witnessed a caregiver or parents being abused.(waves, 2014).
Since the colonial era, there was a trend of the gang. They are involving in unlawful activities such as extortion, stealing a car, creating chaos in community, drugs, etc. In the 1830s cabbage tree mob was one of the prominent youth gangs of that time. Their gang behaviour includes prankish, irreverent to obscene language, larceny, hurling stones, brawling, drunkenness, and assault. (Melbourne, 2008). There is lots of gang in Australia that creates problems and shows a negative image to young people. There was another youth gang called Sharpies in 1960. That gang member includes young people ages 17 to 24. They were members of Suburban youth gangs in Australia. They were prominently found in Melbourne but also in Sydney and Perth to a lesser extent. In early 1990, media reporting of youth collectives has however increasingly assumed a radicalized character, with a range of ethnic minority groups such as Non-Anglo Australian, Somalian Lebanese, and Asian descent. Media negatively portrays youth and describing youth gangs on an ethnic base brings chaos in the community. In 1998, the drive-by shooting of the Lakemba police station in Sydney, police alleged that a Lebanese youth gang was responsible without an investigation. (Santina Perrone, 2000). It’s all because of Media, that youth became the victim of community and law.
Nowadays, young people with issues are ostracized instead of helping them. Young people joined youth gangs because they feel neglected, lack of opportunity, abuse, and unhealthy parent relationships. Young people feel that gangs serve to provide a sense of social inclusion, support, opportunities of status, and group identity.(criminology, 2003).So, what they feel is wrong and anti-social behaviour. Communities perceive them in a negative and root cause of societal problems. Youths in now a day’s include themselves in a variety of gang-related problems. There are different types of gang-related behaviour such as criminal, conflict, Retreat, street culture. (White, 2002). A youth gang is spreading like cancer in our society. The government has already passed strict laws to minimize this anti-social behaviour. According to 9 news report, it has mentioned that one of the young people joined the youth gang because he feels neglected and lack of appreciation from school. He feels safe and a sense of belonging in the gang. (Butler, 2019).That is the reason he joined the youth gang. So what we can see from here is that our community negatively perceived them. We should encourage young people and support them regardless of their background. It was an act of media that portray young people in a negative image of youth street activities, random violence, and other socially disruptive behaviour. Such reports of media bring moral panic in society and the community will start excluding them from society. So, we need to understand young people's problems and should help them in resolving their problems.
As mentioned above that youth gangs are regarded as a threat to communal harmony and anti-social behaviour. The last factor that contributes significantly toward the youth gang that I will be addressing in this report is why youth are joining gangs and media representation of youth in our society. Youths are joining because of their problems, exclusion from society, unhealthy parenting, lack of appreciating, etc. Researchers state that the formation of a youth gang is strongly inspired by skinhead graffiti, heavy metal music, and common interest. 90 percent of known members were male and almost 50 percent were age between 15-18 years of age. (James F. Short, 2006).So what I observe from this is that the youth of our nations is neglected and less important is giving on them and their future. Young people associated with gangs are in general extremely vulnerable. They may join gangs for several reasons such as for protection from others, to feel accepted, for respect, excitement, status among peers, etc. so it is clear that youth have little concern over their future and care more about their respect and status. (international, 2018). So society must respect their ideologies and encourage them to pursue their career. Young people's perception of being in a gang is rewarding and exciting but in reality it is the opposite. Joining a gang put young people life at risk. There is a risk of committing a crime, dealing, and trafficking of drugs, violence, or death. Young people life is volatile before they turn into adulthood. They will ruin their life definitely. Joining gangs and anti-social behaviour is one of them. The reason for group formation and the typical focus of activities can provide insight into differences between groups. Some of their groups are criminally cantered. (James F. Short, 2006).They perceived that joining a gang will provide them social status and respect. They often feel they are above law. Apparently what they think is wrong and anti-social behaviour.
Media plays a major role in their life. Media negatively portrays them. There is an exaggeration in news about youth gangs. They are the one who labelled the group of young people and says they are a threat to society. The presence of large groups of young people dressed in particular ways or with or without group affiliations appeared to have fostered at least within the media, the idea that Australia has a gang problem. (James F. Short, 2006). Media negatively perceive young people and they consider them a threat. When a group of young people dances on the street or gathering, media will label them as a gang. They will create a distinction between young people and labelled them as African gangs, Asian gangs, etc. (Mason, 2006). So that will produce a moral panic among society and society will perceive a group of young people negatively. Media defined youth as youth criminals and they even mentioned that youth gangs consider themselves above the law and showing no empathy towards other citizens. So the media representation of youth should be better and they need to stop generalization.
So, youth gang is an issue that can be eliminated by changing the perception of young people and society. Lots of research has been doing on the youth gang and their intervention. Australian research alliance for children and youth is a leading researcher among them. Their intervention includes family-based intervention, counseling, education-based interventions. (White, 2007). Their primary goal is to promote collaborative research and agenda-setting for young people. It is mentioned above that young people are joining gangs because of the wrong perception. So what I feel is that we need to change that wrong perception of young people. We can educate young people and build their self-esteem and encourage them to indulge in social activities. We need to organize a campaign for young people to create awareness of the consequences of joining gangs. On the other hand media should change their ways of portraying young people in society. They should focus more on the positive side of young people rather than the negative side. They should refrain from labeling and generalization of a young people group. So that it will not create moral panic among society. The government at all levels should organize a campaign that delivers in positive and constructive manners the realities and strengthen cultural diversity. (White, 2007).Police should works on grassroots of crime commits by young people and should not rely on media. Police should work independently without relying on media.
Young people are treasures of the nation and should assist them in any matter. Young people may commit a mistake but we should help them to correct their mistake. it is the responsibility of parents, teachers, youth workers, polices to respect their lives and their choices. One of the biggest drawbacks in these reports is that we ignore to appreciate the work done by young people and neglect them. We should not do that. it makes them feel discouraged and abstain from doing good work they are doing. So we should encourage young people. One of the main things here is to help those young people who already involve in youth gangs. We should help them by bringing back to their normal and provide counselling, educate them.
- Butler, R. (2019). 9 news. Retrieved 5 16, 2020, from https://www.9news.com.au/national/a-current-affair-melbourne-teen-street-gangs-youth/2dccfd85-fb30-44
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- international, C. (2018). Childnet international. Retrieved 5 21, 2020, from Childnet international: https://www.childnet.com/teachers-and-professionals/for-working-with-young-people/hot-topics/social-media-and-gang-violence/why-do-children-and-young-people-join-gan
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- Wikipedia. (2020). wikipedia. Retrieved 5 15, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharpies_(Australian_subculture)