A gang mentality allows the individuals who are members to feel invincible, larger in importance and strengthened by the sheer volume of their number. The banding together of individuals who may alone be weak and ineffective becomes a collective force with a singular purpose, usually reprehensible, to exert their presence en masse. The mentality behind this is simple – in matters of violence or coercion gang rule cannot be defeated by a lone person or unorganized group. The overwhelming effect of the pressure exerted by gangs is not just in the areas of violence, it has a significant psychological impact on society in general and the community affected specifically.
Gangs offer no real contribution to society, other than to cause a log-jam in our court system and add to rising prison populations. They detract from valuable resources in short demand and ruin the lifes of young people Worldwide. In large American cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City, an enormous amount of crime is attributable to gangs, so much that special police gang units have formed to keep up with the tidal wave of gang activity. The sad fact is that for every gang member taken off the streets, there are youngsters eagerly waiting to replace them. The status of gang membership provides them with money, drugs, and a sense of well-being associated with the parent group.
Why people join gangs and the mentality behind the decision is universal, in that humans by nature tend to gravitate toward associations that they feel will benefit their position in life. An individual with limited resources, educational opportunities, and a general negative outlook at their perspective future are prime candidates for gang membership. Particularly in depressed economic communities, the youth looks at the "thug life" as a way out to a more financially secure future. The threat of a criminal charges or prison sentence is considered just another aspect of the gang life, and in many cases is a badge of honor. Within the gang mentality, a member who committed a crime on behalf of his gang and takes the fall in stride is elevated to a higher status, and is accorded more respect.
Without a system in place to mentor the young, individuals will continue to join gangs for protection, status and economic benefit. The sad realization of the impact of gang actions comes late in most gang members, and too often comes when serving a long prison sentence or while recuperating from a senseless act of violence perpetrated against them.