Street Gangs

Not all gangs are created equal. Although there is no strictly agreed upon definition of what a street gang is, there are certain common characteristics that street gangs possess. There is a group element where the gang serves as a surrogate family for many of the members. There is no such thing as a one-person gang. Symbols are also important to identify who is a member of which gang, and these symbols also create a sense of collective identity. There are nonverbal (e.g., graffiti) and verbal (e.g., code words) forms of communication that let others know who is part of what gang and the location of a certain gang’s turf. Street gangs also maintain an element of permanence, meaning that they stick around for extended ...

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