Criminal street gangs in the U.S.  Why do gangs exist? 

Who joins street gangs?  Are they bullies or gang members?

Street gangs have existed in the United States for years and their history and origins can be traced back to many large metropolitan areas. Many gangs originally formed as a means of self-protection for family and friends within their neighborhood.  Street gangs in today’s society exist for one reason – to conduct criminal activity and this activity usually involves the sale of drugs. While gangs may have had some good intentions sixty years ago, today's gangs are nothing more than bullies and other losers who hide until they can form a group.

Street gang members, when confined, frequently carry their gang affiliation to the prison where members of the same gang will band together or they may join a larger, more powerful gang, to include the traditional prison gangs.

Inmates who maintain their street gang affiliations pose many security problems for the prison staff, due to their general lack of leadership and discipline.

Many people think of all gangs as being the same as the Chicago gangs, the Los Angeles gangs or the gangs of New York.  Gangs OR Us shows you that they are not the same.  Generally speaking, most gangs in other parts of the country may call themselves Bloods, Crips, or Gangster Disciples, but most have absolutely no connection to the original gangs.  Many of these gangs are what are referred to as copy cat gangs and many of the thousands of copy cat gangs that have formed throughout the United States are based on the Chicago and California gangs.


Youth will join a gang for various reasons. The overwhelming reason for kids to join is to meet a need that is not being fulfilled by their family, school, or environment. The following are some of the reasons why youth decide to become involved with gangs.

  • Naivety
  • Attention
  • Low self-esteem
  • Desire for friendship and a sense of belonging
  • Love
  • Peer pressure
  • Respect
  • Fear
  • Need for protection
  • Sense of power
  • Victim of poverty or inequality
  • Family tradition
  • Excitement
  • Access to drugs, guns, sex, and money
  • A belief that gang life will make them superior
  • Family problems/lack of positive communication
  • None or little adult supervision - no role model
  • Glamorization of gangster life by media (movie, TV, music industries)

Former Chicago street gang leaders and founders speak out against gangs

Memphis TN Leaders (including former gang members) Speak Out


Anti-Gang Message From Actual Bangers

Caution:  Lots of profane language



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  Robert Walker

This page was last updated on 03/14/2014

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