Gangs as an Occupation
Gang-related activities are on the rise in the United
States. Once thought to be an inner-city phenomenon,
gangs have expanded their presence to suburban and
rural communities. Gangs have migrated to Long Island
from New York City and from other states. The Long
Island gang phenomenon has taken on epidemic
proportions. Law enforcement officers estimate that
there are as many as 10,000 gang members in Suffolk
and Nassau Counties. Currently, local law enforcement
estimates there are approximately 42 gangs (Fight
Crimes: Invest in Kids in New York, 2004).
Gang membership provides an occupation that is
meaningful and purposeful within an adolescent's
context. Gang membership offers a means of attaining
social status, power, and self-worth. It provides safety
and security when other alternatives do not exist.
However, these short term gains of belonging to a gang
only satisfy the adolescent’s immediate need for
purpose and meaning. Gang participation can have a
lasting detrimental impact on an adolescent’s potential
to acquire adult occupations that are meaningful,
purposeful, and productive.