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Teen Violence In Saint Louis Essay

1282 words - 6 pages

Over the past several years overall crime in the city of St. Louis has dropped dramatically, almost 30-percent. One particular crime however is way up homicides. The city is averaging nearly one murder every two days. A primary cause of this deadly spike is a rise of gangs and gang culture. St. Louis is home to one of America's most active and aggressive gang cultures, helping make it one of the most violent U.S. cities. In parts of North St. Louis and North St. Louis County gangs wage turf wars that, in some cases, run block to block. The impact this has on people living in these neighborhoods is overwhelming. Webster’s dictionary defines violence as exertion of physical force so as to ...view middle of the document...

Youth gangs are bound by a common ethnicity, race, social class, or other determinant and employ distinctive symbols, including style and color of dress, hand signs, tattoos, and graffiti. Loyal gang members follow a gang-defined system of rules, rituals, and codes of behavior. Gangs serve some individuals as a substitute family structure. Membership imparts a sense of empowerment as members act together to defend territory and provide mutual protection. Youth gangs typically engage in delinquent, criminal, and violent activities, often for financial gain. The growth of youth gangs throughout Saint Louis, and the increase in violence associated with gang membership are serious issues of concern for any parent. Delinquent and antisocial behaviors in young children, particularly those who live in environments where poverty, unemployment, and drug addiction are common, are early danger signs. Seeking help from concerned and qualified school counselors, church, and community leaders can alleviate many parental concerns and provide opportunity for early intervention.Some people believe that “Lack of investment in struggling neighborhoods and does play a large role in creating the gang culture. However, I resent the idea that poverty automatically means “thuggery” and shooting rival gang members for sport. There is a share of personal responsibility involved here as well. These kids don't live in an African desert or a Mexico City slum. They aren't starving or lacking clean water. They have free schools that provide free books and subsidized lunches. They have teachers who speak their language. If they chose to value "fitting in with friends" and getting "fast money" over long-term investment into their own education, they can't complain about paying a price for it. The community (and even your parents) can only help you so much. At certain point you have to take responsibility for your own life.” (Sergeant James Fogt, of the Chicago Police Department) While others feel that “I think people join groups because they want to belong. Parents need to be more interactive in the lives of their children and teach them faith in God. To belong to a loving family and to be taught basic godly values, there is no substitute.” (Lavonia Thomas, Psychologist). St. Louis gangs are accounting for a growing percentage of violent crime.
In an effort to control the situation police are saturating specific neighborhoods, recovering weapons and rounding up suspected offenders. By most accounts this approach only provides a temporary solution for the problems caused by lack of jobs, poor schools and crumbling infrastructure.
The Gang/Drug Division keeps current on gang activity in St. Louis Metropolitan area and participates in the activities of the St. Louis County Gang Task Force. This task force is comprised of representatives of various law enforcement agencies, the Missouri Department of Corrections, the Probation and Parole...

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