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Characteristics of Gangs

Characteristics of gang behavior can range from a poor general attitude to clear-cut personality disorders that can at times parallel the criminal mind. Caution is wise when thinking one can place all gangs into one behavioral category.

A gang member on his or her own "turf" in school or in the community may be openly hostile. Outside the turf, the gang member may seem likable, open, and friendly. But gang members have their own code and sense of fairness and can easily turn on one when the code is violated. This can often result in sudden non-cooperation or, worse, violent retaliation.

The gang member is a good con artist and can easily manipulate his or her environment to as it suits his or her needs. Appearance can be very deceiving. But a gang member can also display poor internalizing skills, be chronically angry and resentful of authority, and can be an accomplished liar.

The more violent gang member can be calloused and remorseless, lack realistic long-term goals, be prone to easy boredom, and have poor impulse control.

Today, in many mature, modern criminal street gangs, violence is often a means to an end. Material profit, through drug trafficking and other criminal activities, is the prime objective.

Studies in modern gang behavior indicate that violent gangs have a strong capacity to deal with fear and are therefore not easily intimidated by authority. They have cut fear off. They experience excitement at every stage of a crime, are concrete thinkers, have little interest in responsible performance or a display or ownership. They consider themselves basically decent human beings and, therefore, justified in what they do. Each gang member wants to be in charge but often has poor leadership skills, is chronically angry and defensive, and cannot be structured or do tasks for a protracted period of time.

Parental, neighborhood, and law enforcement involvement is the only way gang activity will be curbed.

Remember, this is your school community--not the gangs'!

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