There are many different types of family structures that contribute to young people joining street gangs.
According to the authors of Gangs, Graffiti, and Violence, states that young people join street gangs for social and economic reasons (Leet et al., 2000, p. 9). However, one of the main factors young people join gangs hence the lack of stability of being raised in an unstable family environment. For instance, gang members raised in a single parent home by their mother, usually in her early thirties, caring for three or four children at a time, on her own without the presence of a male father figure. As a result of being a single parent, the mother is forced to work long hours and at times more than one job just to make ends meet, which results in the children being left unattended without any adult supervision or the older sibling left babysitting his or her younger siblings. In addition to the lack of supervision the moment the child gets into trouble with law enforcement officers, the mother comes to her child’s rescue excusing his actions and behavior.
This type of behavior and attitude from the mother encourages the trouble youth to continue his reckless behavior because she refuses to punish him in his wrongdoings. Therefore, the child grows up playing the victim, blaming society for his downfalls and short comings instead of taking responsibility for his own actions (Leet et al., 2000, p. 10). Another family structure that contributes to young people joining street gangs is the fact that they have relatives in a gang such as uncles, fathers, or brothers, whom they desire to be like because of the power and popularity that they are gaining. In addition to obtaining the same kind of popularity and respect as their relatives, they feel that becoming a member of the gang will help them develop a closer relationship between their relatives (Leet et al., 2000, p.
10). Lastly, stereotypical family structure is another reason why young people are becoming members of gangs, when a parent attempts to raise their child to the best of their ability. However, for reasons unknown the child strays away from good family values to become a hardcore gang member (Leet et al., 2000, pp. 10-11). Too many young people participate in gangs for more than financial gain and protection.
Gang members chose this form of lifestyle as a substitute for what they have never experience, and that is loving and acceptance from their own family (Leet et al., 2000, p. 12).