According to a new national survey released late last week, most Americans believe that the economy has resulted in more gang violence.
Of the adults interviewed by Harris Interactive, 71 percent said gang violence among youth is increasing as a result of the current economic climate.
Harris Interactive interviewed 1,022 adults ages 18 and above between June 26 and June 29. The results were weighted for age, sex, geographic region and race where necessary to align them with the actual population proportions. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The telephone-based survey also focused on the root causes of gang violence.
Per their report, forty-one percent of people surveyed said the No. 1 cause is a lack of adult supervision of America's youth. The next most popular answers were poverty, 15 percent, and lack of education, 13 percent.
A similar survey conducted by Boys and Girls Clubs of America offers similar results.
Joe Mollner, senior director of the Boys and Girls Clubs delinquency and gang initiatives, told the Associated Press, “Kids don't have a lot of alternatives today, especially in low-income communities.”
This sentiment was shared with a juvenile probation officer in the Houston, Texas metropolitan area that I spoke with on yesterday. Although they chose to remain anonymous they did speak candidly about some of the issues that area correction officers are facing and point to some correlation between the state of the economy and the growing gang violence.
On the connection between the loss of prevention programs and rising gang members: “Once the outreach programs were taken away from the county and city, the violence went up and gang initiations rose.”
When asked to touch on parental involvement, the officer noted, “Most of the parents are already single home, so the mothers usually have to work to provide for their kids. They’re not paying attention. They’re more concerned with their personal lives and/or working two or three jobs to provide for their family.”
There are believed to be one million gangs in the United States. With local municipalities slashing various social programs that offer education and job training from their budgets, that figure is sure to continue to rise.
Have you noticed rising gang activity in your area? Is there anything that can be done to fight act recruitment besides locking young people up?
I’d love to hear your perspective.
Leave your comments below or share your own gang-related experiences with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.