4. Presentation of the findings
This chapter presents the data collected on the factors that influence teenagers into joining gangs and effects of their involvement in gangsterism. This chapter was necessary to complete this study properly by answering all the research questions in this study. The semi–structured interviews were used where the researcher conducted face to face interviews to collect data from 6 teenage males, two parents and two teachers from Lovunywa Secondary School which is situated at Langeloop village. The teenagers who participated were between the ages of 13 to 19 years. Thematic content analysis was used to analyse the data.
4.2 The socio-economic background of gangs
The study conducted at Langeloop village shows that the majority of gangs (70%) incarcerated there had poor backgrounds. Only a few (30%) came from middle class families. None were from rich families. Out of the 10 gangsters interviewed, only 3 came from better families, the rest of the 7 others were from poor backgrounds. Most of the teenagers who are involved in gangsterism are from poor families and their education level ranged from none to grade 11.
Because most families where gangsters came from had no employed members, they depended on food donations, social grants or other safety nets. Lack of education also seemed to be a main factor of gangsterism. More than 50 % of the gangster teenagers have dropped out of school while they were still in grade 8. Without education and appropriate skills, the gangsters could not be employed. Given the harsh economic situation they lived in, the only thing they could do to make their lives better was to join gangs and engaging in criminal activities.
4.3 Types of families where gangsters come from
Poverty is a major determinant of gangsterism among teenagers. According to, the us bureau of the census uses a formula for measuring poverty that takes into account family income, size of the family, number of children under the age of 18, and age of the head of the family. On the basis the bureau reported that there were approximately 14 million children under the age of 18 living in poverty in 1999. And the findings of studies by the children defence fund shows that poverty among children is not restricted
These children are vulnerable to a wide variety of problems including poor nutrition, inadequate housing, and physical or emotional abuse. Teenagers from these backgrounds become part of a cycle of low income or unemployment, the president commission on law enforcement and the administration of justice recognized the role of poverty in producing delinquency and noted that the most serious forms of gangs are more prevalent among youths at the lowest socio-economic levels, the fact that poverty is self-perpetuating is a documented fact. Criminal and gang activity may also be an accepted part of the total picture of these deprived children.
4.4 Mass media’s responsibility
Mass media always influenced people. Particularly children and teenagers who have the desire to learn and explore new things, they always get snare with the film they just watched in the television. Impact by mass media should be taken into concern. Mass media must know their limits in publishing something. They must be aware of whatever programmes they want to publish have bad effects or not to the audience especially teenagers who usually like to copy the violent action in the television.
Mass media also can help to solve this gangsterism cases by publishing advertisements on bad effects of gangsterism activities among teenagers. As a result of this action, I’m sure teenagers will keep a far distance from gangsterism activities and they will totally not have any feelings to be involved themselves in that bad activities. They will choose to involve themselves in participating in such a good and beneficial activities like watching a debate or other programmes that beneficial for their studies organized by the mass media. In short, we can conclude that mass media’s responsibility is important in order to solve this crucial problem among teenagers nowadays.
4.5 Negative peer networks
Teenagers face constant pressure to fit in, and they may not have the support they need to avoid pressures to join a gang. Peer influence can come in a form of intimidation, coercion, a dare, harassment, friendly persuasion, or repetitious begging. Peer group is the main reason why gangsterism occur among teenagers because usually teenagers tend to share their problems with their friends rather than discussing with a family member. They feel like friends will understand their feelings better, so whatever their friends do, they will follow them and do it even though it is something bad.
‘I joined a gang because it is not easy to be the only one doing something different. Sometimes i would feel worried that i will be picked on if I don’t go with the crowd, or i lose my friends. Other times i do stuff because my friends are doing it so it seems normal’
4.6 Exposure to violent behaviour
An example can be a child who witnesses his mother being abused by his father. He is already exposed to abuse, harsh and violent behaviour, with corporal punishment as a means of discipline (Huff, 2011). He seeks affirmation outside the home and gets lured into petty crime by the local gang.
Exposure to violence has been linked to antisocial behaviour among teenagers, for example, violence victimization was found to be the single best predictor of juvenile violent behaviours mostly in boys. According to the study findings witnessing violence and victimization were the strongest causes of current violent behaviour such as involvement in fights and carrying of weapons.
4.7 A desire for protection
Communities with high gang activity often see young people join gangs just to survive. Based on the findings of the study, it is often easier to join the gang than to remain vulnerable and unprotected in their neighbourhood.
‘Joining a gang provided me with better protection from violence and attack from rival gangs because you know the brotherhood has your back’