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The Media and Gangs

Updated on February 27, 2018

In 2017, there were 1,150,000 active gang members known to the US justice system. 40% of those gang members are under the age of 18. 63% of these members were involved with drug trafficking and 44% were involved with assault or other violent violations. Those numbers are only growing and it would be a lie to say social media and the mass media as a whole is not one of the main causes. For more statistics, check out this link below

Cyber Banging

Cyber Banging- a term used when gang members use social media to engage in gang activity. Whether it is promoting, arguing, making threats or other gang activity it can all be seen by the public. Facebook, youtube and twitter serve as platforms for gang members to partake in criminal activity through social media.

Fuel to the Fire

Nowadays you don't have to be in the streets for you to gang bang. Now u can do it behind a screen of any laptop, computer or cell phone that is internet capable. Many people have lost their life as a result of cyber banging online. One of the more famous cases is that between chicago rappers Chief Keef and Lil Jojo. The two artists had an ongoing feud on twitter due to being from rival gangs. Lil Jojo decided to taunt Chief Keef and his associates and shared his location via twitter. Approximately 2 hours later, he was gunned down and killed. This is just one incident highlighted due to the following between the two rappers but the kind of altercations happen frequently in todays society. for more on this story click the link.

How Television Portrays Gang Activity

The media portrays gang violence and activity positively through television shows and movies. In movies like Scarface and television series like Power, the main character is seen as the good guy despite being involved in gang/criminal activity. In the movies and television series, they see the main characters engage in violent activity frequently and are surrounded by things that we value as a society including women and money. This leads to the influence of the youth to engage in gang related behavior.

Mass Media Influencing the Youth

In today's society, media influences many of our choices, opinions, and behaviors. The problem is that when these influences are aimed at the youth, they form views and opinions on different subjects before the youth are old and experienced enough to have individualized opinions of their own. So before the youth can establish their own judgments and values, they begin to value sex, drugs and violence due to the constant showing of these things in the media. When children and young adults see masses of money and women being acquired, they try to replicate or follow in the foot steps of the people who are acquiring it. The issue is that they are repeating the same criminal offenses that they see in the media in order to gain the goods and services illegally. They see the gang related behavior so often that they begin to think it is okay to indulge in gang activity which includes assault, robbery, armed robbery, and breaking and entering.

Music's Influence on Gang Violence

Today's music scene for the youth is very diverse. However in many places, a new subcategory in the genre of rap music has emerged- it's called drill music. Drill music is a style of trap music that originated in the south side of Chicago. This specific genre derives from the very violent and gang affiliated lifestyles the rappers live. the following of drill music is increasing, and subjects of drill music are centered around drugs, sex, and violence and youth are listening to this music and they believe it is okay to act on the same behaviors because the rappers who are singing are rich. A study was conducted by Western Conneticut State University where students were tested to see whether or not listening to violent rap music causes an increase in violent behavior. They had 11 students watch a rap music video that expressed violent behavior, and 11 students that did not watch it. It was found that those who watched the violent music video acted more violently afterwards when asked questions about hypothetical scenarios regarding women,families, and morals (Tropeano 2006).

Recruitment

The recruitment of gangs has been made a thousand times easier with the use of social media. Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and Twitter now serve as gang members very own recruitment platforms. On these pages you can now see gang members posting pictures with things like money, drugs, and brotherhood- all which can be desirable to the youth. Even the graffiti that you see on concrete walls when you are driving is a form of advertising for those gangs.

Why Youth Join Gangs

Children and adults join gangs for many reasons, but one of the most important is for recognition. "Being part of a gang allows the gang member to achieve a level of status he/she feels impossible outside the gang culture" (lapdonline.com) Another reason could be for protection. Many gangs provide a sense of family and brotherhood that the individual may possibly be lacking in their home environment. Lastly some individuals join gangs so that they can benefit from the groups profits and protection. All of these reasons for joining a gang are broadcasted through movies, television, and social media.

Facebook Live

In the past year, Facebook has added a new feature to the famous website called Facebook Live. This feature allows users who have an account to stream activities live to friends and families but it didn't take long until it started being taken advantage of. Numerous acts of violence have been broadcasted over Facebook Live and this has truly transformed criminal activity. "Gang affiliates, typically adolescents and young adults, use their online presence to promote their gang identity and gain notoriety." You can see gang members engaging in criminal activity to either gang approval form other members or advertise to recruit new ones.

What Can We Do to Prevent Gang Activity?

One of the best ways to prevent gang activity on social media is to combat it with more social media. We can start by sharing information and reaching out to the youth and to the community online because that is where a lot of activity is taking place. Workshops and messages can be sent to parents through the emails of the school informing them about gang activity, violence, and recruitment taking place online and in the mass media. Another step we can take to fight this new wave is to report any violent or gang related activity you see online to the autorities or to the companyor website at which it is taking place on.

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