Island In the Street: Analyzing the Function of Gang Violence from a Culture and Conflict Perspective
Island in the street: analyzing the function
of gang violence from a culture and
Kacey Shap is a PhD (ABD),
based at Conflict Analysis and
Resolution, Nova Southeastern
University, Davie, Florida, USA.
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to examine the components of a gang culture in
conflict with society, and second, to explore how gangs, the community, and law enforcers externalize the
gang problem from the vantage point of worldview and worldmaking.
Design/methodology/approach – The researcher gathered news articles from the Nexus-Lexis research
database system within a one-year period (from February 2012 to February 2013). The data was randomly
selected and representative of newspapers published throughout the USA. The news articles were coded
based upon the aspects of culture (lens of perception, motives for human behaviors, criteria for evaluation,
basis of identification, means for communication, justification for social stratification, and mode for
production and consumption). A thematic analysis was also conducted to determine: the aspects of gang
culture in conflicts with society; and how the gangs, the community, and the law enforcements externalize
the gang conflict.
Findings – Results suggest that gang violence is largely due to issues of identity, values, and gang
cohesiveness rather than the result of the pathologically based environmental conditions. Criteria for
evaluation and issue of identity constituted 66 percent of the violent conflict with society. In the context of
worldviews and worldmaking, gang members and law enforcement personnel are more likely to adopt a
rigid, win-lose framework while members of the community are more likely to prescribe to a flexible and
holistic perspective toward the gang problem. In sum, gang violence is not necessarily a deviant or antisocial
act; rather, it is a result of the conflicting narratives between the gang cultures and the culture-at-large.
Research limitations/implications – In dissecting gang behavior from a cultural perspective, it is easy to
categorize gangs as a collective subculture. However, gang members may not view themselves as a
subculture nor consider themselves as belonging to a subculture community.
Practical implications – By examining the function of culture – in this case, the gang culture – as it conflicts
with society at large, one may better able to develop an action plan that emphasize identities, cultures, and
values rather than crime and punishment. Also, it may help shed light on how the various stakeholders
(i.e. the gangs, law enforcements, and the community) perceive the conflict, which may assist researcher to
develop a comprehensive and holistic approach toward intervention. Finally, implementing a culturally
based gang violence intervention may reduce cost.
Originality/value – This research is unique in that it analyzes the function of gang violence in relation to the
society-at-large. Also, the research addresses the issue as to how the various stakeholders interpret the
“gang problem.” Finally, this research is innovative in that it employs news articles as units of analysis rather
than the traditional qualitative interviews or quantitative surveys.
Keywords Thematic analysis, Culture and conflict, Gang culture, Gang violence, Worldviews,
Paper type Research paper
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Gang Intelligence Center (2011) estimates that
there are over 1.4 million gang members living in the USA. Consequently, the gang problem can
PAGE 78 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 6 NO. 2 2014, pp. 78-98, C Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 DOI 10.1108/JACPR-11-2012-0009
cost society up to $655 billion on an annual basis (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids (FCIK), 2004;
Howell, 2009; Riviello, 2010). Simply put, if the cost of gang violence were considered a global
military expenditure, it would account for 33 percent of global spending and be equal to that of
the next ten nations, respectively: China ($143 billion), Russia ($71.9 billion), UK ($62.7 billion),
France ($62.5 billion), Japan ($59.3 billion), India ($49.9 billion), Saudi Arabia ($48.5 billion),
Germany ($46.7 billion), and (Brazil ($35.4 billion) (Stockholm International Peace Research
Each time a gang member engages in a violent crime, society bears the burden, evidenced by
the expense of incarceration, legal proceedings, property damage, healthcare, cost of
administering justice, and loss of income associated with the death of bystanders. For example,
one gang-related homicide can cost up to $1,000,000, both directly and indirectly, in the form
of property damage, manpower to investigate the crime, cost of the court system, cost of
healthcare due to injuries such as bullet wounds, and impact on the penal system (Cook and
Ludwig, 2006). A study conducted by the US Office of Surgeon General (2001) determined that
gang violence accounted for $90 billion in the US criminal system, $170 billion in productivity and
quality of life, $65 billion in security, and $5 billion in victim treatment. It is estimated that a career
criminal will cost the system between $1.7 million and $2.3 million within the first ten years of his
or her criminal activities (Cohen, 1998; FCIK, 2004).
The gang problem has reached an epidemic proportion. Evidence of gang escalation and
violence can be seen in the latest Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Gang Intelligence
Center (2011) report, which revealed that gang violence accounts for half of all violent crimes
in the USA, with some jurisdictions reporting as high as 90 percent rates. Furthermore,
approximately 55 percent of the victims of gang shootings are innocent bystanders (Kelen et al.,
2012). In 2012, an American civilian is four times more likely to be shot and killed in the streets of
Chicago by a gang related crime than a deployed American soldier is to die from a shooting in
Afghanistan (Erbentraut, 2012).
The gang problem is not only limited to the USA alone but is becoming a problem in other parts
of the world as well, including Australia (White and Mason, 2006), Europe (Gatti et al., 2011),
North and South America (Decker and Pyrooz, 2010), and Asia (Pyrooz and Decker, 2012).
Governments abroad must also face the same challenges, violent aggression, and conflicts
currently plaguing the communities in the USA. It is for such reason that society needs a more
comprehensive approach toward analyzing gang violence, one that looks beyond the traditional
discourse of law and order, right and wrong, and justice and lawlessness.
Need for cultural and conflict perspective on gang violence
Though research on gang violence has spanned the past century (Esbensen and Winfree, 1998;
Gover et al., 2009; Thrasher, 1927), few studies have examined gangs as a subculture or studied
the cultural functions for such violence. Similarly, researchers, experts, and even law enforcement
personnel have mostly emphasized the pathological conditions in impacting the deviant behavior.
Simply put, it is generally believed that gang violence is environmental and the byproduct of
socioeconomic conditions (Kinnear, 1996; Sanchez-Jankowski, 1991; Oehme, 1997; Sanders,
1994). Supporting such claims, Brantingham et al. (2012) found that inter-gang conflicts are more
likely the result of border disputes and the maintenance of the gang territory.
Regarding the conditions supporting gang violence, Bradshaw et al. (2013) concluded that the
typical gang member is more likely to experience academic problems, be picked on by fellow
peers, and engage in various types of substance abuse. Similarly, Olate et al. (2012) found that
low future orientation, educational troubles, school expulsion, low empathy, and association
with other delinquent peers are also strong predictors for gang membership and subsequent
delinquent behaviors. Studying the immigrant community in Southern California, Vigil (2002)
established a link between gang membership and immigration histories, discrimination, feelings
of marginalization, and failure to acclimate with the larger society. In conducting a review of youth
gang affiliation, violence, and criminal behaviors, O’Brien et al. (2013) found that individual
disposition, peer, family, and school to be contributing factors in gang membership and youth
violence. In short, a number of scholars on the subject of gang violence have contended that the
phenomenon is situational and based on pathological conditions.
VOL. 6 NO. 2 2014 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 79
Intervention policies have focussed primarily on fixing the behavioral aspects – or, in some
cases, eliminating the environmental factors – of gang violence. These measures often include
passing tougher laws to deter gang membership, increasing manpower to combat violence, or
creating harsher penalties for gang-related crimes (e.g. Eighteenth Statewide Grand Jury, 2007;
Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Gang Intelligence Center, 2011; Florida Collier County
Sheriff’s Office (FCCSO), 2006). Law enforcement personnel have also channeled their efforts to
reduce firearms by passing comprehensive anti-gang legislation (McGarrell et al., 2013) and
limiting overt drug marketing cartels within communities (Corsaro et al., 2013). The results of
these efforts have been mixed. Hipple et al. (2010) conducted a longitudinal study spanning
37 months to examine the impact of gang related drug reduction policy. They found a
9.1 percent decline in property crime, a 7.3 percent decline in violent crimes, and a 5.5 percent
decline in drug crimes following the interventions.
It has also been found that interventions made on the basis of pathological conditions are not
necessarily effective in the long run. As such, Engel et al. (2013) assessed the Cincinnati Initiate
to Reduce Violence (CIRV) and found that while CIRV did reduce violence over time, the success
rates varied across sites. The researchers also found that CIRV could not account for
the significant or sustained declined in gang violence. Furthermore, some researchers have
challenged the success of gang intervention programs all together due to the lack of
implementation procedures and failure to provide a criterion for success (Klein, 2011; Klein and
Maxson, 2006). In fact, Klein (2011) goes so far as to assert that “almost [any intervention
strategy] is ‘promising’ because so little has been tested properly” (p. 1037).
Even if anti-gang policy works, there is no guarantee that the effect will be long lasting post
intervention. For example, Melde and Esbensen (2013) analyzed self-reports of gang members,
former gang members, and non-gang members and found that while former gang members
reported a significant decline in violence and antisocial behaviors, former gang members still
committed a significantly higher level of delinquency as compared to non-gang members. In
another example, California experienced a spike in gang violence in the 1990s after California
lawmakers instituted a spending cut on social programs that had previously helped reduce gang
violence (Rodriguez, 2005).
Increased governmental intervention does not prove to be effective, and in fact it has only worsen
the problem. For example, the gang problem was officially recognized as a national epidemic in
1995, when the US Department of Justice formed the National Youth Gang Center (NYGC) to
survey 4,000 agencies across the USA in order to assess trends in gang violence and criminal
activity (US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1997).
Since the formation of the NYGC, the number of gangs has doubled, from 665,000 to 1.4 million.
Gangs have since adopted more violent tactics to resolve their conflicts, engaged in more
sophisticated criminal activities, participated in human trafficking, and developed international ties
with other criminal syndicates (Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Gang Intelligence Center,
2011; Thomas et al., 2013; Ulloa et al., 2012). If government involvement had been successful,
there would have been a decline in violence, which has not the case.
Government interventions do not make society safer either. In fact, it appears that when law
enforcement imposes stiffer punishments, increases manpower to combat gang shootings,
makes it harder for gangs to associate, or targets the criminal activities, gangs escalate the
conflicts with equal and deadly force. For example, gangs have learned to take advantage of the
loopholes in the legal system by rechanneling their criminal activities from blue collar to white
collar crimes; respond to police force with AK-47s and semi-automatic rifles; turn to social
medias such as Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace to coordinate drug deals and recruit new
members; and plant moles within law enforcement and police agencies to undermine law
enforcement efforts (Lim et al., 2012; Papachristos, 2005; Federal Bureau of Investigation,
National Gang Intelligence Center, 2011; FCCSO, 2006; US Department of Justice, 2009).
Violence may be pathological, but the motives governing such behavior are an issue of cultures,
identities, and conflicts. For Avruch (1998), culture is the derivative of acquired solutions to life’s
challenges; individuals must learn to adapt to the ever-changing environment by forming families,
obtaining food, warding off enemies, curing diseases, managing disputes and raising children.
PAGE 80 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 6 NO. 2 2014
When gang conflicts cease to be about food, safety, and security and are more about respect,
self-esteem, and values (as suggested by Mitchell, 1989; Donnella and associates, 2005), then the
conditions for conflict are no longer pathological but cultural, and violence becomes merely
a means through which gang members negotiate their contrasting cultural values. This is the case
because culture gives people a way to make sense of the world. It provides a sense of normalcy for
particular behaviors and rituals, sets rules and limitations, determines what is beautiful, and imbues
individuals with particular frames of reference (Mazrui, 1990). Accordingly, while it may be true
that gang members come from a violent upbringing (as suggested Brantingham et al., 2012;
Sanchez-Jankowski, 1991; Sanders, 1994), the conditions themselves do not sufficiently explain
gang violence in its totality.
Violence cannot account for how a former law abiding adolescent can become a ruthless
murderer and forego the social norms, values, and morality associated with being a functional
member of society. That is, gang members, for the most part, have consciously engaged in
violent behaviors rather than just merely responding to their needs for safety and security.
Furthermore, the pathological environment cannot account for how a gangster is willing to fatally
shoot a grandmother because she tried to stop his gang mate from spray painting the wall
(Gonzales, 2012); how a gang member had no qualms about executing his best friends in
a playground just to gain membership (Derbeken and Huet, 2012); or how gang members are
quick to kill each other over issues of respect (see Simon, 2012). External conditions may be the
initial cause of gang membership, but it is the culture, values, and identities that perpetuate and
shape their continued violence.
It is erroneous to overlook the cultural implications of gang violence. Shootings, murders, and
inter-gang conflicts are examples of what Augsburger (1992) calls destructive conflict; they
involve a “contest of wills, of force, of courage to resist, compel, and coerce” (p. 57). Destructive
forms of conflict have dire consequences for society because parties in the conflict will tend to
adopt a negative assumption of each other and operate based on the mentality that the only way
to avoid domination is to dominate the other first. In order to prevent violence and deconstruct
the destructive conflict, a thorough understanding of gang culture is needed.
It may be the case that gangs form an island in the street, as suggested by Sanchez-Jankowski
(1991), because they feel isolated from the community, and constructing a culture of
violence enables them to make sense with an otherwise violent surrounding. This has lead
(Sanchez-Jankowski, 1991, p. 312) to conclude that “a given gang member’s display of
aggressive traits or his involvement in violent exchange is not necessarily pathological; rather it is
appropriate behavior in an environment whose socio-economic conditions are pathological.”
The goal of this research is to segregate the aspects of gang culture from the violent behaviors
that past researchers, the community, and law enforcements have come to clumped as one
and the same.
Thus, there are two main research questions concerning gang violence from a culture and
conflict perspective. The first, what are the components of gang culture that are in conflict with
society? This is critical for current research on gang violence because by identifying,
categorizing, and deconstructing the cultural catalysts responsible for the conflict, one may be
better able to draft an intervention policy that caters to the underlying needs and interests and
thereby reduce the violent conflict. The second, how do gangs, the community, and law
enforcement externalize the gang problem? There are many stakeholders in this conflict, and it is
important to understand how the stakeholders interpret the problem so that practitioners can
craft an intervention strategy that is inclusive, welcoming, and empowering to all those involved,
which thereby will enhance the efficacy of the intervention program.
This study is unique in that the primary object is not to determine how gangs think, what factors
motivate violence, or why gangs engage in violence, but rather the aim is to analyze the function
of gang culture when such ethos clash with the larger society. For that reason, news media are
the ideal unit of analysis for this particular research as opposed to the more traditional methods
of gathering data (i.e. qualitative interviews or quantitative surveys). The purpose of the research
is to ascertain the aspects of gang culture that is in frequent conflict with society, and newspaper
articles provide the perfect benchmark for not only documenting the conflicts but also the
VOL. 6 NO. 2 2014 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 81
identifying the frequency of the conflicts. Also, news media is a reliable benchmark for
ascertaining gang conflicts as it has been shown to correlate with the national gang homicide
rates. In fact, Jensen and Thibodeaux (2013) analyzed the frequency of gang news from the
LexisNexis database system and correlated it to the FBI reports on youth gang homicide rates
between 1980 and 2010. The researchers found a significant correlation between the
newspaper articles and gang violence (r ¼ þ 0.85), suggesting that what is reported in the news
media is reflective of the national trend on gang violence.
Even though common perception views gangs as groups of individuals who engage in deviant
behaviors, researchers, law enforcement, and scholars have not been able to come to a
consensus about what defines a gang. Frederic Thrasher (1927) was the first to define gangs as
“an interstitial group, originally formed spontaneously, and then integrated through conflict [y]
The result of this collective behavior is the development of tradition, unreflective internal
structure, esprit de corps, solidarity, morale, group awareness and attachment to a local
territory” (p. 57). Yet, this definition is overly simplistic. Furthermore, studies have shown that not
all gangs engage in deviant behaviors. This has led other researchers to define gangs as
organizational structures with hierarchies of power, chains of command, and tendencies to
engage in unlawful behaviors (Oehme, 1997; Sachs, 1997; Sanders, 1994).
While gangs do engage in deviant and antisocial behaviors, focussing solely on one particular
aspect – that gangs are threats to society – may impede and exacerbate the problem; it may
lead to overlooking the issues that have engendered these gangs in the first place. Defining
gangs solely according to their criminal activities serves to restrict general perception of gangs.
Thus, law enforcement is more likely to justify certain tactics to solve the problem, not realizing
that such actions can have the exact opposite and undesired effect by enlarging the conflict as
opposed to reducing and lessening it (Oehme, 1997).
For the purpose of this research, a gang will be defined as a group composed of three or more
individuals forming a subculture of shared values, practices, and worldviews as a response
to the larger mainstream society. These shared sets of ideologies enable gang members to cope
with their marginalized position and justify particular codes of conduct, which may clash with
mainstream hegemonic values.
The first accounts of gang activities in the US were recorded in the early 1800s in New York City’s
Five Points District (Sachs, 1997). These gangs were known as the Forty Thieves and they primarily
pickpocketed and fought over turf. By the Prohibition Era in the 1920s, gangs had turned to
syndicate crimes and engaged in illegal and criminal activities such as extortion, gun sales, liquor
sales, and bookmaking. By the 1930s, the US experienced a rise in African-American, Puerto
Rican, and Mexican-American gangs; however, it was not until after Second World War that
Hispanic gangs emerged on a national scale in major cities such as Chicago, New York, Detroit,
Boston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. Initially, Hispanic gangs conflicted with African-American
gangs as they contested issues ranging from racial differences and turf disputes to honor.
Despite the prevalence of gangs in US history, the present-day notion of street gangs only
emerged in the early 1970s. In fact, Hagedorn (1988) distinguishes the pre-1970s from the
post-1970s gangs by describing the former as industrial and the latter as postindustrial. This is a
notable distinction in that postindustrial gangs have a proclivity to adopt economic function in
their repertoire, to use violence to regulate their illicit dealings, to use firearms, to be influenced
by prison gangs and to adopt the mainstream ideals of money and success despite their lack of
upward mobility (Hagedorn, 1988). Furthermore, the emergence of more powerful weapons
enabled gangs to resolve their conflicts by more destructive and violent means (Sachs, 1997).
Postindustrial gang members differ from their industrial counterparts in many ways. Whereas
pre-1970s gangs were more likely to identify themselves by the neighborhoods surrounding
PAGE 82 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 6 NO. 2 2014
them, today’s gangs build their sense of identity from the larger mainstream society. This may
entail adopting a particular brand-name as a way to “search for respect that is constructed
in relation to the dominant culture” (Sachs, 1997, p. 69). For Aldridge (2003), the 1970s
period represent the emergence of the postmodern self; the transition to a postmodern
self-focusses on the here-and-now mentality, on constructing the fluid self and on desire and
wish mentality (pp. 30-1). As a result, individuals may join gangs as a response to social
disorganization; as such, gangs provide a sense of order in a disorganized world and allow the
marginalized population to reconstruct its sense of identity, self-esteem, honor, and respect
Development of gang cultures and functions
Mazrui (1990) maintains that culture provides seven key functions that are paramount to
human survival. First, culture provides a frame of reference: the lens of perception that comes
to dominate people’s interpretation of reality, experience, personal ideologies, values, and
goals. Second, culture provides the motives for human behavior; it enables people to justify a
particular action, behavior, belief or norm. Third, culture provides the criteria of evaluation;
individuals come to espouse what is moral, beautiful, immoral, and ugly. Fourth, culture forms
the basis for identification; individuals associate with the larger group via ethnicity, race,
religion, and nationality. Fifth, culture provides the means by which people communicate;
individuals are able to express and exchange information through art, music, symbolic
gestures, and language. Sixth, culture justifies the basis of social stratification; individuals
come to categorize and to label their differences through class, rank, and status. Finally,
culture provides the mode of production and consumption; both production and consumption
are reciprocal in shaping people’s sense of culture. For the purpose of this analysis, the
function of culture has been consolidated into five themes: social economics in shaping lens of
perception; motives, production, and consumption; formation of gang identity; criteria for
evaluation; and gang and communication.
Social economics in shaping lens of perception
The socioeconomic upbringing of the gang has major influences in shaping its perception of
reality. It is perhaps not surprising to find that a majority of gang members come from an
economically underprivileged community where poverty, crime, and social instability are
rampant. While gang members come from diverse racial backgrounds, gang enticement is most
likely to be prevalent for first and second generation immigrants, because these kids are
more likely to be marginalized, feel ostracized from other mainstream kids, experience
cultural isolation, feel alienated, and be rejected from the larger community. As such, many of
these young immigrants see gang membership as a step up from their current living conditions
(FCCSO, 2006; Peralta, 2008).
Gang culture entices young adults because it promises protection from real or imaginary threats,
a sense of family connection, escape from family problems, wealth, respect, expensive clothing,
nice cars, money, and most of all power (Akiyama, 2011; FCCSO, 2006; US Department
of Justice, Federal Bureau Intelligence, Safe Streets and Gang Unit, 2006). This is perpetuated
by the media and entertainment industry, which glamorize the “gangsta” lifestyle by sensationalizing
the thrill and excitement of engaging in law-breaking behaviors (US Department of Justice,
Federal Bureau Intelligence, Safe Streets and Gang Unit, 2006).
Individuals who join gangs are trapped in a double bind: they are damned if they do and damned
if they do not. For instance, unstable environments breed fear and insecurity, leading would-be
members to view gangs as the solution to their hostile environment. Yet, once initiated,
new recruits must prove their prowess and worth by engaging in violent, law breaking behaviors.
They seek gangs to protect themselves from violence, but end up perpetuating the cycles
of violence themselves. Even though gangs claim to protect their members from enemies,
the members must reciprocate this protection; failure to do so may cost them their lives
VOL. 6 NO. 2 2014 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 83
Motives, production, and consumption
Contrary to common perception, violent gangs want the same things that mainstream society
desires: food, security, a sense of belonging, and material comforts (Sanchez-Jankowski, 1991;
Akiyama, 2012; Lachman et al., 2013). However, these comforts are systematically denied
to them due to their poverty-stricken environments and the corresponding absence of
economic prospects or opportunities for social mobility. As a result, gangs have engaged in
pathological behaviors in order to secure a foothold within an otherwise unstable environment
(Marcuse, 1997; Becker, 1968; Sanchez-Jankowski, 2003; Crutchfield et al., 1982).
For gang members, committing deviant acts such as selling narcotics, laundering money,
committing armed robbery, perpetrating identity theft, or engaging in other antisocial behaviors
often serve as a means to an end. These acts enable gang members to fulfill the end goal: to be
rich, powerful, and protected (National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC), 2009; US Department
of Justice, Federal Bureau Intelligence, Safe Streets and Gang Unit, 2006). While gangs vary in
their level and type of antisocial behaviors, the primary means by which gangs produce income
is through selling narcotics. Conflict emerges when rivaling gangs fight over drug turf, debts
owed between rivaling gang members, or dealings gone wrong (NGIC, 2009).
The money earned from illegal activities is used to perpetuate status-based consumptions that
support the gang’s lifestyle and showcase the gang’s success to potential members (Melde
et al., 2012; Klein, 1995; Thornberry et al., 2003). Would-be gang members are often enticed by
the perceived wealth and glamorous lifestyle the gangs appear to offer. Interestingly, gangs are a
profit-generating organization; new recruits are expected to enhance the gang’s prestige
throughout the community by generating profits by selling drugs, committing robberies,
recruiting new members, or becoming hit men (Klein, 1995; Weisel, 2002).
Formation of gang identity
Like in many subcultures, gang identity is a source of group solidarity and individual strength for
its members. To reinforce gang identity, members often wear similar clothing styles, use
common colors to identify their gang, mark their territories with graffiti, use hand signs, or get
particular tattoos (Know, 1991). Members also share a group mentality, which provides another
sense of unity and shared meaning. Gang members also come to define their gang identity
through various philosophical outlooks such as mi vida loca (my crazy life), live for your God, live
for your mother, die for your gang; thug life, and smile now, cry later (US Department of Justice,
Federal Bureau Intelligence, Safe Streets and Gang Unit, 2006).
Challenges to a gang’s standing are similar to the challenges to its group identity. When an
individual joins a group, he/she adopts the group’s values and norms as his/her own;
transgressions of the group status are a violation of self (Mitchell, 1989). For violent gangs,
threats to the gang’s reputation are a challenge to each individual’s sense of self-worth and
identity, and the challenge can be costly. When this occurs, the individual may go to any length to
protect his gang prestige.
In their basic form, gangs provide members with a mode of support, prestige, group identity,
and power that may be impossible to attain anywhere else (Melde et al., 2012; FCCSO,
2006; Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Gang Intelligence Center, 2011). Gangs function
as a second family because they give the youth love, affection, discipline, stability, and
protection that they desperately need (FCCSO, 2006). The sense of unity and family
connectedness that comes with gang membership is an effective tool gang leaders use to
require their members to do things that may their personal beliefs. Newly recruited members
often face this tough dilemma.
Criteria for evaluation
Gang cultures provide an outlet for individuals to redefine their morals and social values to fit to
their antisocial behavior. For instance, the values of violence, revenge, respect, and gang
solidarity are used to justify the devaluation of life. Gang members will go out in public and shoot
a person in cold blood just to up the body count and earn rank and respect (Luckenbill, 1977).
The devaluation of life works both ways: members are willing to both kill and die for their gang.
PAGE 84 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 6 NO. 2 2014
Veterans, or successful gang members, must learn to suppress their conscience, even if the act
entails turning against their biological family, best friend, or significant other (US Department of
Justice, Federal Bureau Intelligence, Safe Streets and Gang Unit, 2006; Esbensen and Weerman,
2005; Bandura, 2002).
Gang and communication
Gangs have sophisticated systems of communication. The most obvious are their clothing
styles, graffiti, body jewelry, sign language, tattoos, and gang colors, which provide a basis on
which to define their allegiance and group affiliation. Each communication method serves
a diverse function and has a distinct symbolic meaning. For instance, tattoos are not only used
to show allegiance to a particular gang, but also to display the person’s autobiographic history
by marking his acts of violence or body counts (Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 2007).
Members use sign language to warn each other, coordinate attacks, show respect, and show
disrespect through a process known as stacking (Arciaga et al., 2010). Graffiti also has many
functions: it establishes the gang’s claim to a particular turf; challenges another group by visibly
crossing the other group’s name, writing their symbols up-side-down, or depicting their figures
broken in half; marks alliances between two groups; serves to mourn a fallen member; and
notifies other members of meetings for drug sales (ESGJ, 2007; FCCSO, 2006; Florida Gang
Investigators Association, 2009).
Graffiti depicting gang logos or gang names can be highly symbolic and can encompass the
group’s principle. For instance, FOLK Nation’s six-figure star represents understanding, love,
life, wisdom, loyalty, and knowledge. The Vice Lords may depict many different symbols: a Top
Hat to represent a magician hat; a Cane to symbolize strength; a Dice to represent gambling and
hustling; and a Playboy Rabbit to represent quickness of thoughts, movements and speed
Worldviews and wordmaking
Prussian philologists Wilhelm von Humboldlt first coined the term weltanschauung, which
literally translates to view of the world (Underhill, 2009). Worldview refers to “the widest view
which the mind can take of things in the effort to grasp them together as a whole from the
standpoint of some particular philosophy or theory” (Orr, 2002, p. 3). Underhill (2009) divides
worldviews into five distinct categories: world-perceiving, or how people come to recognize
language); world-conceiving, or how people create worldviews through talks, writing, and
transmitting their thoughts and emotions; cultural mindset, the dominating worldviews of
institutions such as politics and religions; personal world, the individual’s sense of reality; and the
perspective, or the dynamic shift between the world of conceiving and perceiving.
Building upon previous notions of worldviews, Docherty (2001) refers to worldview not as a
thing, but rather as a “concept that attempts to articulate the consequences of human activities
that are personal as well as collective, psychological as well as social” (p. 50). As such, Docherty
divides worldview into five vital components: ontology, logic, axiology, epistemology, and ethic.
In other words, worldviews and world making individuals come to determine what is real or true,
how reality is structured, what is worthy and essential, how people come to know what they
know, and how people enforce codes of conduct.
Docherty (2001) also distinguishes between worldviews and wordmaking. She argues that in
the former, the actors interpret their surroundings, while in the latter, the actors actively
negotiate, court, and challenge each other’s competing sense of reality. With regard to conflict
management, the extent to which conflicts end constructively or destructively depends on one’s
ability to manage worldview differences. According to Docherty, conflict persists and escalates
because parties spend a vast amount of energy, time, and resources to negotiate their realities.
Therefore, gang violence persists because parties are actively negotiating – albeit violently – their
claims, merits, norms, and beliefs at each other’s (and society’s) expense (Docherty, 2001).
Worldviews and worldmaking provide a critical understanding as to how gangs interpret,
make sense of, and justify their realities in conflicts with the society at large. For example,
gangs and law enforcements approach the gang problem from different and often competing
VOL. 6 NO. 2 2014 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 85
perspectives. For gang members, the predominant mindset is often an “us against them”
mentality. This dog-eat-dog outlook leads members to constantly be on guard and to
constantly assess others as potential threats: whether the opponent is a “wolf” (predator) or
“pork chop” (victim) (Peralta, 2008). For law enforcements, the dominant mentality is of law
and order; their job is to protect and defend the community from fear, instability and threats
to order. Thus, any transgression or antisocial acts that intimidate or cause fear in the
community are legitimate grounds for intervention (Kessler, 2009; Federal Bureau of
Investigation, National Gang Intelligence Center, 2011; US Department of Justice, Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1997). Not surprisingly, conflict is inevitable
between gangs and law enforcements as both sides attempt to justify and negotiate their
realities via destructive and violent means, which produces a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Consequently, when parties engage in negative, destructive conflicts, they are more likely to
waste resources in attempting to change each other’s beliefs and thereby inhibit the search
for collaborative problem solving (Pruitt et al., 2004).
A thematic analysis was conducted to determine first, the extent to which the various functions
of culture, as outlined by Mazrui (1990), conflict with society at large; and second, how gangs,
the community, and law enforcers externalize the gang problem. A thematic analysis approach is
pertinent for this study because, as Braun and Clarke (2006) argue, thematic analysis enables
the researcher to identify, analyze, and report the patterns within the data set. The patterns in
this study include Mazrui’s (1990) five key functions of culture: social economic status in shaping
lens of perception; motives, production, and consumption; formation of gang identity; criteria for
evaluation; gang and communication. By identifying key themes emerging from newspaper
articles, one may be better able to identify the frequency and pattern of gang culture in most
conflict with society.
Thematic analysis is a useful tool for analyzing the frequency of “‘what’ is said, rather than ‘how,’
‘to whom,’ or ‘for what purpose’” (Riessman, 2008, p. 54). Simply put, the present research is
less concerned with why gangs develop cultural components that enable them to adapt within
the larger society; instead, it seeks evidence for how gang cultures conflict with the larger
society. By identifying the specific cultural components, researchers, practitioners, and law
agencies may be better able to craft a culturally related intervention strategy to effectively curtail
Externalizing the problem is a psychological schema used in mediation and by other conflict
resolution practitioners to help the invested parties step outside of the problem, to analyze the
problem from a holistic perspective, and to understand how the problem impacts the parties. It
is a mental model by which the mediator separates the parties from the conflict in such a way as
to change the language and discourse so that “speaking in externalizing way means speaking
about the conflict as if it were separate from the two parties in mediation” (Winslade and Monk,
2001, p. 144). William Ury (1993) calls it “going to the balcony” (p. 31), because it allows the
people in conflict to distance themselves from the situation, their natural impulses, and their
emotions in order to detach from the conflict, the setting, and the dispute and asses the situation
from an objective, non-biased point of view.
While the researcher of this study is not necessarily asking the gangs, the community, and law
enforcement to externalize the gang problem, the researcher is looking for evidence of
externalization in newspapers. Recognizing how actors view themselves in relation to the
conflict may provide a better understanding of the conflict behaviors, the parties’ perceptions of
the conflicts, and their motives for engaging in the behavior.
To determine the impact of gang culture, the researcher randomly sampled news articles from
newspapers and journals throughout the US (n ¼ 181) within a one-year period (from February
2012 to February 2013) using the Lexis-Nexus Newsbank database. Articles were limited to
PAGE 86 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 6 NO. 2 2014
local newspapers (as opposed to news feeds or local news stations), confined to the USA, and
consisted of reports rather than opinions or op-eds. In cases where multiple newspapers
reported the same the event, the researcher selected the article with the highest word count.
Data were then coded using the NVivo 10, which is a data-managing tool that allows
researchers to code, analyze, and asses qualitative data.
The 181 newspaper samples examined in this study originated from both large urban cities
(e.g. Houston, Texas; New York City, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Seattle, Washington)
to smaller urban communities (Hartford, Connecticut; Boynton Beach, Florida; Ruidoso,
New Mexico). Over 242 codes were generated from the sample, with a few incidents being
coded multiple times. Coding was based on one simple premise, “What motivated the
conflict?” For example, an incident involving the kidnapping of a rival gang member that
resulted in torture, beatings, multiple stabbings, and execution style murder would be coded
as both criteria for evaluation/values and group formation/gang identity. This is the case
because the kidnapping might be a response to a turf wars (and hence the kidnapping served
to solidify the group identity) while the beating, stabbing, and execution may be a way for
gangs to establish respect (and perpetuate their status as someone to fear and respected).
Finally, the coding is also based on the context of the news article rather than the interpretation
of the researcher.
Three main themes developed from the thematic analysis: gang identity as the basis for
violence (which accounted 34 percent of the coding); individual’s criteria for evaluation (which
accounted for 32 percent of the coding); and motives for behaviors, consumptions, and
productions (which accounted for 24 percent of the coding) (see Figure 1). Interestingly, direct
violence (e.g. shootings and killings) was related to issues of identity, criteria for identity, and
group formation either between or within gangs; while indirect violence (e.g. drug trafficking,
possession of drugs) was related to motives for behaviors, consumptions, and production.
Rarely did gangs target the community directly when the conflicts were over values, identities,
or group formation, though society became indirectly affected by the shootings, murders,
and destruction of property. With regard to worldview and worldmaking, gang members
Figure 1 Thematic analysis of gang violence
Depreciation of life
Exploitation of female body
Notes: Criteria for evaluation/values, group formation, gang identity, and motives for
behaviors (consumption and production) constituted major themes for gang violence.
Within the three dominant themes are sub themes. For example, in criteria for evaluation,
the sub themes include violence, manliness, revenge, and depreciation
VOL. 6 NO. 2 2014 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 87
were more likely to adopt a rigid interpretation of the gang problem; community members and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were more likely to be responsive; and local agencies
exhibited a mix of reactive and responsive characteristics, with a preponderant tendency
Function of culture
Theme 1: formation of gang identity. The formation of gang identity accounted for 34 percent
of the total code involving direct conflicts with society, which was actualized in the form of
shootings, murders, and violence. Group violence can be divided into four subthemes, which
included violence associated with rivalry/turf, revenge/retaliation, rights of initiation/gaining
status, and violence toward a gang member for snitching.
Rivalry/turf. Inter-gang violence was a common theme in the data. Gang members engaged in
violence in order to protect, control, and define their territory. Gangs will instigate violence toward
a rival gang for the sake of maintaining their jurisdiction and control. This was typified by the
following newspaper clip, which described an incident in which two innocent civilians were
targeted and shot eight times because one of the victims was wearing a red cap, the symbol
belonging to a rival gang:
Why, oh why did the defendant kill Marco? Because Marco was wearing this hat, “Deputy District
Attorney Tim Wellman said during opening statements of the trial as he displayed the hat to the jury.”
That is all it took for the defendant to blast shot after shot after shot (Rosynsky, 2012).
Retaliation/revenge. Retaliation and revenge are strong motivators for gang violence, and have
been the source of violence escalation. Retaliation can easily occur over issues of gang prowess
or to avenge the death of a fellow gang member. This is exemplified in the following news article,
which describes an accidental meeting between two rival gang members that resulted in
retaliation and a brutal stabbing:
Police said the victims, all gang members, were gunned down by four rivals who drove up behind
them on Eighth Lane and let loose more than a dozen shots [y] Gang members or associates agreed
to commit a minimum number of violent acts and plotted killings or regular attacks on rivals.
Prosecutors say the group opened fire on four people in Daly City four days before the Eighth Lane
killing (Melvin, 2012).
Initiation/gain status. While most gang violence targets fellow or rivaling gang members, violence
can also be initiated toward innocent bystanders for the sake of gaining a member or elevating
an existing member’s status within the gang. This is typified by the following description of a
conflict in which gang members knowingly killed an innocent civilian on the basis of gang status
A member of the MS-13 street gang admitted in court yesterday that he killed a bouncer in a
Hempstead bar to gain the respect of other gang members and not because he had any sort of
personal beef with the victim. [y] Vidal Espinal, 24, said that he fatally shot security guard David
Nestor Moreno in the head in March 2010 “in order to maintain and increase my position in the MS-13
and afterward I was given more respect from other MS-13 members because I ‘put in work’ for the
gang” (Kessler, 2013, p. A24).
In another incidents, gang members commit violence or murder in front of other gang members
in order to test the loyalty. The following excerpts demonstrate a typical gang related violence
required as loyalty to the gang:
They had taken the victim to a party earlier and were drinking with him. They were to kill him and test
the loyalty of another MS-13 member [y] “The party was a ruse, the drinking was a ruse, and the
plan to go commit a burglary was a ruse,” said Creighton. [y] When they arrived at Terminal Avenue,
Molina remained in the car as the two other gang members stepped outside with the victim
and began assaulting the man, who was stabbed 14 or 15 times before he was able to escape
Snitching. The act – or, in some cases, the perception – of turning against fellow gang members
can be the basis for unimaginable acts of violence against fellow gang members, as
PAGE 88 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 6 NO. 2 2014
demonstrated from the excerpts below, which describe how gang members punish those
whom they suspect of snitching:
The charges are a laundry list of brutality: burning a tattoo off an ousted member’s body; hacking the
finger off the corpse of another ousted member – who’d been blasted repeatedly with a shotgun – as
a trophy; ordering that an informant’s death be “as messy as possible” (Schiller, 2012b, p. A1).
Theme 2: criteria for evaluation. The criteria for evaluation and values account for 32 percent of
the thematic coding and, much like the previous theme, motivates other forms of violence such
as shootings, murders, and violence. Criteria for evaluation could be further divided into
subcategories including violence as a currency for respect, mark of manliness, revenge, and the
depreciation of life. The coding of the data were based upon the origin or root cause of the
violence. In this case, the violence was motivated to preserve, bolster, or protect the identity of
the self when confronted with conflicts with others.
Violence as a currency for respect. Violence in the forms of beatings, stabbings, and shootings
are not acts of random pathological symptoms, but rather an exchange of prowess individuals
and gangs display to command respect from rival gangs, the community, and one another.
Gang members are often encouraged and forced to display their violence by abusing or killing
even their own friends, as illustrated in the following clip:
One general near Lufkin had a gangster blast his own best friend in the head with a shotgun or he’d
be killed for not obeying. Another in Dallas had a gang tattoo burned off a guy’s torso with a blowtorch
(Schiller, 2012a, p. A1).
The following excerpt describes a gang member who killed his gang leader because he was
After Cochran responded, Wright added, “I’ll burn him. I’ll creep up there and net him [y] I will control
his destiny, fool – trust me.” Four days later, Jackson was shot four times on First Street in West Hill.
Later that day, Cochran told a woman over the phone, “Yeah you know that [y] Busy just got
touched right?” (Gavin, 2012, p. A1).
The following excerpt illustrates that even when a gang member decides to the leave the violent
environment, he still has to prove his violent nature in order to get out of it:
Shortly before the murder, fellow MS-13 gang member Miguel “Blacky” Guevara had announced he
wanted out of MS-13 because it was too violent, a close friend of his had just been killed and he was
getting married, Jones said. But before Guevara could “calm down” – or leave the gang – it was
decreed that he had to earn it by killing a rival gang member (Rankin, 2012, p. 1B).
Mark of manliness. Gang members have a strong desire to protect their sense of manliness, and
when this is challenged, they are not afraid to use violence, even when it is against a fellow gang
member, as shown in the following excerpt:
Seven men who grew up together gathered in an alley near a notorious Camden drug corner.
The month before, at least two of them had celebrated a birthday with a barbecue and champagne.
But this day, a squabble over drug turf erupted into an argument.
The men came from at least three sets of the Bloods street gang. They were packing guns
Eventually – perhaps inevitably – bullets flew near Sixth and Royden Streets in the Lanning Square
neighborhood (Simon, 2012, p. B01).
Revenge. Revenge also plays a large part in contributing to the culture of violence, though
there is a distinction between revenge that is associated with the formation of gang identity and
revenge associated with criteria for evaluation. In the former, revenge is motivated by a desire
to protect the group identity; in the latter it is used to gain status, protect the self, or to save face.
Similar to the mark of manliness, gang members will not hesitate to respond with violence, even
toward their own. This is depicted in the following excerpt:
“We’ve had four homicides since Saturday,” Suhr said. “This is not a rival gang situation. These guys
used to be friends. Everybody knows everybody.” Suhr said it was too early to tell what motivated
Sandoval’s killer, but he said most of the recent slayings have involved gang members shooting
members of their own factions. He did not say what caused the groups to fight among themselves.
Gang experts have stressed that even small slights can trigger a revenge cycle both inside and
between gangs (Nevius, 2012, p. C1).
VOL. 6 NO. 2 2014 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 89
Depreciation of life. The devaluation of life is not the intention for gang membership,
but it quickly becomes a means to an end as gang members actively try to reconstruct
their identity as gangsters. As a result, social morals such as honoring one’s family or
valuing life are suppressed, enabling gangsters to kill for the sake of killing. The following
excerpt exemplifies how one teenage gang member did not hesitate to shoot a
grandmother in the face when she tried to stop his fellow gangster from spray-painting her
A judge sentenced a Pico Rivera gang member Wednesday to 50 years to life in prison for fatally
shooting a grandmother in the head when she tried to stop his companion from tagging a wall four
years ago (Gonzales, 2012).
In another incident, a gang member shot a group of bystanders for retaliation, even though none
of the people were the intended victim:
Amarion was standing outside a house with family members in the 2000 block of West 14th Street on
June 13, 2010, when several people in a car approached. Someone in the vehicle opened fire on the
crowd, striking the child and four other people.
Police have said the shooting was a retaliation for an earlier confrontation between rival gangs, but
none of the victims were the intended targets (Pinion-Whitt, 2012).
Theme 3: motives for behaviors, production, and consumption. Motives for behaviors,
production, and consumption constituted 24 percent of the thematic analysis. Within this
theme, violence and conflict were associated with consumption and production – in other
words, how gangs support their way of life. The researcher identified three main subthemes
within this theme: drug trafficking, prostitution, and exploitation of the female body. Similar
to other themes, violence is not just committed for violence’s sake; it is related to economic
Drug trafficking. Drug trafficking represents a substantial component of illegal gang activities,
which can be a source of conflict with rivaling gangs and also with the community at large. Gang
members often join gangs because of economic hardship but end up perpetuating illegal
activities such as the selling of drugs. The following excerpt shows this relationship:
August to October with members of 11 law enforcement agencies, also resulted in the recovery
of 29 firearms, $20,000 in cash, and $22,300 in cocaine, marijuana and PCP, authorities said
(Marshall, 2012, p. A1).
Here is another example of the relationship between crimes and drugs dealing:
“We only had a month to do the project, but there are certainly gangs in Niagara Falls. There’s a huge
crack cocaine market in the city, which creates a competitive underground economy. There are
gangs, and a lot of them are dealing drugs,” Lauger said (Fischer, 2012, p. NC6).
Prostitution. Gangs have increasingly taken advantage of their fellow female gang members or
non-gang members to profit from their bodies. This is best exemplified when a young 17-year
old girl refused to serve as a prostitute in the presence of a gang leader. The gang leader
responded with brute force as a way of showering his ownership of her and challenging anyone
who crossed his path:
The affidavit also said Mr Strom threatened a 17-year-old girl with a knife, cutting her on the arm when
she refused to use cocaine, and forced her to have sex with him. It said she was then taken to an
apartment where she was forced to have intercourse with “fourteen unknown males,” from whom
Mr Strom collected $1,000. Two other UGC members drove to her home, telling her she “got what
she had coming” and, according to the affidavit, if she spoke of the events that they would “come
back and kill her” (Seper, 2012, p. A01).
Exploitation of the female body. While men primarily dominate the gang membership, there has
been an increased in women membership as well. Unfortunately, the gang system is highly
patriarchal and thus more likely to exploit the female body. This is exemplified from the following
excerpts about girl’s experience in gangs:
There is no good life for women in gangs, both women said. Women are abused as drug mules, fall
gals and sex objects. “They are also disposable,” Perez said. If a woman refuses an order, “they will
take you out” (Noguchi, 2013).
PAGE 90 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 6 NO. 2 2014
In another excerpt, gangs recruit young girls and force them into prostitution and force the girls
into working for the gang:
The Crips, one of the largest and most violent street gangs in the United States, spread its network of
crime into high schools in Virginia, where gang leaders recruited girls as prostitutes with promises
of “lots of money” and then maintained their allegiance through beatings, threats, assaults and an
endless supply of drugs (Seper, 2012, p. A01).
Worldview and worldmaking
Gang worldview: what I had to do. Thematic analysis was conducted to determine the extent to
which gangs frame their experience from the context of the gang problem. The results indicate
that gangs are more likely to adopt a rigid interpretation. In other words, gang members often
frame their experience from a reactionary and/or conditional responsive, with a common theme
of “this is what I had to do.” Gang members tend to describe their worldviews as inflexible, rigid,
and based on a win-lose perspective, in the sense that they are the product of the environment
and must respond to the environment, albeit, in a violent manner. There is a sense of
helplessness regarding both joining and perpetuating gang life. This theme is typified in the
following excerpt from a former female gang member, who describes the reason for her initial
membership into the gang life:
“I used to just run away from the house, from my dad and all that. I was just trying to get away from
things,” said Iris. “So I was doing negative things. Like I was trying to change, but I couldn’t”
(Pinkerson, 2012, p. B1).
In the following excerpt, another former gang member speaks of death, body count, and bullets
as a way of life. He states that a gangster must earn his respect via bullet counts, suggesting that
the only way to survive in the gang world is to follow its rules:
“Everything is about death, not life,” Marshall said. “Those T-shirts with the guy’s name on it just feeds
into it. It used to be you were celebrated for how many guys you put down. Now it is how many bullet
holes you’ve got” (Nevius, 2012, p. C1).
Gang members often feel trapped in the system, even within their own gang family, as shown in
the following excerpts in which Perez, a female gang member, recounts how she must accept
consequences and orders – such as being raped by her male counterparts – as a way of life:
“It happens all the time, and it’s not talked about. It’s part of the territory, part of the lifestyle,” Perez
said, “You can’t say no to someone who has a lot of power” (Noguchi, 2013).
Community worldview: what we needed to do. Unlike gangs, the community – including local
neighborhoods, non-governmental agencies, and religious institutions – is more likely to
approach the gang problem from a holistic perspective. Unlike the gang members’ response of
“this is what I had to do,” the community is more likely to approach the problem with the mindset
of “what do we need to do?” In response to the gang problem, the community is more likely to
emphasize the need for education about the problem, host a rally, or provide incentives to steer
kids away from gang life, as shown in the following excerpt:
In response to recent increased gang violence in Pasadena, community and religious leaders plan to
host a rally promoting peace Sunday (Day, 2012b).
The next excerpt also illustrates the community’s response to the gang problem:
The founders of a nonprofit teen training center realized their dreams Wednesday alongside five
students who accepted athletic college scholarships. The nonprofit foundation – dedicated to giving
young people positive alternatives to drugs, gangs and violence – was founded in the wake of the
Nov. 10, 2007 (Day, 2012a).
The following example is a unique case in which the community interferes with the gang violence
directly by appealing to the gang member to understand the consequences of gang violence on
their family, friends, and community:
Violence interrupters are outreach workers who will work with gang members, their leaders, friends
and families to stop the back-and-forth violence that often erupts after a shooting or other crisis, Haag
said at Salinas City Hall (Reynolds, 2012a, p. A1).
VOL. 6 NO. 2 2014 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 91
Law enforcement worldview: what we did. Law enforcement, for the most part, straddles
between the reactive and responsive perspective, with the majority of law enforcement personnel
holding the former and a selective few the latter. For the most part, law enforcement approaches
the gang problem from a “this is what we had to do” perspective, as seen in the following excerpt
describing a chief of police’s public threat to gangs following a major sting operation:
“For the bad guys that might be listening, don’t think we’re not going to do something,” he said,
looking into TV cameras. “This is just a start” (Bowsher, 2012, p. 1B).
In the following description of another traditional operation, a police offer speaks of unleashing
unrelenting pressure on gangs each time they violate the law:
Bynum told Jordan that he wanted “these guys in the gangs to feel constant, crushing, unrelenting
pressure.” Jordan assured him that the pressure is indeed unrelenting. “I think if you ask the gang
members, they will tell you they are getting that,” Jordan said. “They know every one of his (Larkin’s)
officers by first name; they know every one of their cars; they know when they’re in the area” (Canfield,
2012, p. A1).
Some law enforcement personnel employ both the responsive and reactive approach toward
mitigating gang violence, as depicted in the following description of a local police agency that
decided to educate the community about the gang problem plaguing its community: “Seaside
police held a meeting Wednesday to teach residents more about that city’s estimated 250 gang
members” (Reynolds, 2012b, p. A1).
Mazrui’s (1990) functions of culture and Docherty’s (2001) concepts of worldviews and
worldmaking provided the basis for analyzing gang violence from a culture and conflict
perspective. Results indicated that the formation of gang identity and the criteria of evaluation
constituted 66 percent of the violent conflicts. It was interesting to note that those directly engaged
in the conflicts (law enforcements and gang members) were more likely to prescribe to a rigid,
inflexible interpretation of the problem while those indirectly affected (such as the community,
NGO, and religious institutions) were more likely to adopt a holistic and flexible perspective.
Examining gang behavior through a cultural lens allows for a better understanding of how gangs
actively shape and change their environment. From the outsider’s perspective, these behaviors
appear antisocial and deviant, but gangs view it differently; for them, these behaviors provide a
sense of meaning, honor, connectedness, and power. Through social interactions with other
gang members and conflicts with law officials, gangs create a new understanding of their
realities, truths, and perspectives on life. As a result, gangs pervert the mainstream culture’s
moral values and codes of ethics and are able to carry out antisocial behaviors that they might
not otherwise do as a non-gang member.
One must consider some limitations to this study. While culture may indeed shape the degree of
violence, examining culture by itself is not sufficient enough to explain the gang problem as a
totality. It may be the case that the pathological conditions produce and perpetuate gang violence.
As suggested by past research, gangs come from an economically improvised community, have
low social mobilization, are ostracized by their peers, and feels trap by the environment. Second,
gang members may not perceive themselves as members of the disenfranchised group or
subgroup and labeling the gangs as members of a subculture group may be inaccurate. Finally,
gangs may not all share the same cultural values of violence, revenge, and group formation. Thus,
the culturally oriented intervention programs cannot be a one-size-fits-all model but need to be
adaptive and flexible to the specific gangs and circumstances.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the formation of gang culture as it pertains to the
dominant culture. At first, it would appear that gang violence poses a danger to society and
threatens social stability with its illicit activities and law breaking behaviors. In many cases, it
would seem easier to resolve the problem with stiffer penalties and increased police
crackdowns. However, dissecting each layer and going deeper into the source of the problem
reveals that the gangs themselves are not the problem; rather, it is the larger social context – in
particular, the poor social and economic conditions, poverty, and the conflict cultural realities.
PAGE 92 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 6 NO. 2 2014
Gangs have adapted to the violent condition and produced a culture of violence in the process.
Therefore, claiming that the problem is specifically gang-related ignores the larger social
conditions that influence, perpetuate, and exacerbate the issue of gang violence. Accordingly,
the objective of the present study was to look beyond the problem and analyze the situation from
a new vantage point.
Treating the gang problem ultimately requires society to step out of the traditional understanding
of law and order, right and wrong, justice and lawlessness; instead, those in the position of
power and have the ability to change the gang problem should look at the issue through a
humanized perspective and acknowledge that all members of society contribute to the problem.
As Klein (2011), Melde and Esbensen (2013), and Klein and Maxson (2006) have suggested,
intervention strategies may only temporarily fix the problem, and violence and delinquent
behaviors may still persist even after intervention. Governmental intervention may not be enough
in deterring gang membership and subsequent violence. The traditional approach toward gang
research and intervention is not working. Therefore, an alternative model toward assessing and
preventing gang conflict is needed. The aim of the research is to provide an alternative
perspective toward gang violence by analyzing the functions of culture in shaping the seemingly
senseless acts of violence.
Akiyama, C. (2011), “Youth gangs and hate crimes”, in Lynch, V.A. and Duval, J.B.(Eds), Forensic Nursing
Science, Elsevier, New York, NY, pp. 426-39.
Akiyama, C. (2012), “Understanding youth street gangs”, Journal of Emergency Nursing, Vol. 38 No. 6,
Aldridge, A. (2003), Consumption, Polity Press, Cambridge, MA.
Augsburger, D. (1992), Conflict Mediation Across Cultures, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, KY.
Avruch, K. (1998), Culture & Conflict Resolution, United States Institute of Peace Press, Washington, DC.
Bowsher, K. (2012), “65 arrested in ‘Operation Wild West;’ guns and drugs seized”, The Sun Sentinel,
July 27, p. 1B.
Bradshaw, C.P., Waasdorp, T.E., Goldweber, A. and Johnson, S.L. (2013), “Bullies, gangs, drugs, and school:
understanding the overlap and the role of ethnicity and urban city”, Journal of Youth and Adolescence,
Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 220-34.
Brantingham, P.J., Tita, G.E., Short, M.B. and Reid, S.E. (2012), “The ecology of gang territorial boundaries”,
Criminology, Vol. 50 No. 3, pp. 851-85.
Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006), “Using thematic analysis in psychology”, Qualitative Research in Psychology,
Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 77-101.
Canfield, K. (2012), “Police chief reports progress on gangs”, Tulsa World, July 20, p. A1.
The implications for this study are as followed
’ Gang violence is as much about issues of identities, values, and cultural differences as it is about the
pathological environment affecting youth delinquency, as previous studies have suggested.
’ By identifying the various cultural components that are in conflict with the larger society, one may be
better able to draft an effective intervention program that emphasis culture and conflict rather than
crime and punishment.
’ Gang members and law enforcement personals surprising share the same perspective on the gang
problem, which suggests that part of the solution is to change their perspective on the conflict.
’ Results of this study could be used to assess the success of previous or current gang intervention
’ Future intervention policies need to address the worldviews of both gangs and law enforcements in
order for the actors to “buy” into the intervention.
VOL. 6 NO. 2 2014 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 93
Cohen, M. (1998), “The monetary value of saving a high-risk youth”, Journal of Quantitative Criminology,
Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 5-33.
Cook, P.J. and Ludwig, J. (2006), “The social costs of gun ownership”, Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 90
Nos 1/2, pp. 379-91.
Corsaro, N., Brunson, R.K. and McGarrell, E.F. (2013), “Problem-oriented policing and open-air drug
markets: examining the Rockford pulling levers deterrence strategy”, Crime & Delinquency, Vol. 59 No. 7,
Crutchfield, R., Geerken, M. and Gove, W. (1982), “Crime rates and social integration: the impact of
metropolitan mobility”, Criminology, Vol. 20 Nos 3-4, pp. 467-78.
Day, B. (2012a), “Covina training center celebrates softball players’scholarships”, San Gabriel Valley Tribune,
November 15, available at: www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20120425/killer-of-pico-rivera-
grandmother-gets-50-years-to-life (accessed 7 August 2012).
Day, B. (2012b), “Peace rally planned in Pasadena”, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, December 29, available at:
www.pasadenastarnews.com/20121229/peace-rally-planned-in-pasadena (accessed 7 August 2012).
Decker, S.H. and Pyrooz, D.C. (2010), “Gang violence around the world: context, culture and country”, in
McDonald, G. (Ed.), Small Arms Survey 2010: Gangs, Groups, and Guns, Oxford University Press, London,
Derbeken, J.V. and Huet, E. (2012), “Chief: SF gangs tearing themselves apart”, San Francisco Chronicle,
August 1, p. 1.
Docherty, J. (2001), Learning Lessons from Waco, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, NY.
Eighteenth Statewide Grand Jury (2007), First Interim Report of the Statewide Grand Jury: Criminal Gangs
and Gang Related Violence (Case No. 07-1128), Florida Department of Law Enforcement, West Palm
Engel, R.S., Tillyer, M.S. and Corsaro, N. (2013), “Reducing gang violence using focused deterrence:
evaluating the Cincinnati initiative to reduce violence (CIRV)”, Justice Quarterly, Vol. 30 No. 3, p. 403-39.
Erbentraut, J. (2012), “Chicago homicides outnumber US troop killings in Afghanistan”, Huffington Post,
August 16, available at: www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/16/chicago-homicide-rate-wor_n_1602692.
html (accessed 7 August 2012).
Esbensen, F.A. and Winfree, L.T. (1998), “Race and gender differences between gang and nongang youths:
results from a multisite survey”, Justice Quarterly, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 505-26.
Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Gang Intelligence Center (2011), “National gang threat
assessment: emerging trends”, available at: www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-
gang-threat-assessment/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment-emerging-trends (accessed 12
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids (FCIK) (2004), Caught in the Crossfire: Arresting Gang Violence by Investing in
Kids, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Albany, NY.
Fischer, N.A. (2012), “Studying gangs in small cities”, The Buffalo News, August 19, p. NC6.
Florida Collier County Sheriff’s Office (FCCSO) (2006), Gang Awareness Video (Motion Picture), Thurgaland
Productions, Naples, FL.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (2007), “2007 statewide gang survey results”, available at:
www.fdle.state.fl.us/ (accessed 12 August 2012).
Florida Gang Investigators Association (2009), “Gang-related information (online forum comment)”, available
at: http://fgia.com/ (accessed 12 August 2012).
Gatti, U., Haymoz, S. and Schadee, H.M.A. (2011), “Deviant youth groups in 30 countries: results from the second
international self-report delinquency study”, International Criminal Justice Review, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 208-24.
Gavin, R. (2012), “Will gang war end?”, The Times-Union, April 1, p. A1.
Gonzales, R. (2012), “Killer of Pico Rivera grandmother gets 50 years to life”, Pasadena Star-News, April 24,
available at: www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20120425/killer-of-pico-rivera-grandmother-
gets-50-years-to-life (accessed 7 August 2012).
PAGE 94 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 6 NO. 2 2014
Gover, A.R., Jennings, W.G. and Tewksbury, R. (2009), “Adolescent male and female gang members’
experiences with violent victimization, dating violence, and sexual assault”, American Journal of Criminal
Justice, Vol. 34 Nos 1-2, pp. 103-15.
Green, F. (2012), “MS-13 gang enforcer sentenced in Richmond stabbing”, Richmond Times-Dispatch,
December 13, available at: www.timesdispatch.com/news/local/city-of-richmond/ms--gang-enforcer-
&photo¼0 (accessed 12 August 2012).
Hagedorn, J. (1988), People and Folk: Gangs, Crime and Underclass in a Rustbelt City, Lake View, Chicago, IL.
Hipple, N.K., Corsaro, N. and McGarrell, E.F. (2010), “The high point drug market initiative: a process
and impact assessment”, School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, available
at: http://drugmarketinitiative.msu.edu/HighPointMSUEvaluationPSN12.pdf (accessed 12 August 2012).
Howell, J. (2009), Preventing and Reducing Juvenile Delinquency: A Comprehensive Framework, Sage
Publications, Los Angeles, CA.
Jensen, G.F. and Thibodeaux, J. (2013), “The gang problem: fabricated panics or real temporal patterns?”,
Homicide Studies, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 276-90.
Kelen, G.D., Catlett, M.D., Kubit, J.G. and Hsieh, Y. (2012), “Hospital-based shootings in the United States:
2000 to 2011”, Annals of Emergency Medicine, Vol. 60 No. 6, pp. 790-98.
Kessler, J. (2009), “Making crime pay: we need a new justice system that turns criminal into productive
citizens”, Democracy, Vol. 12, Spring, pp. 60-70.
Kessler, R.E. (2013), “Gang-slay suspects’ trial begins”, Newsday, February 12, p. A24.
Kinnear, K. (1996), Gangs, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA.
Klein, M.W. (1995), The American Street Gang: Its Nature, Prevalence, and Control, Oxford University Press,
New York, NY.
Klein, M.W. (2011), “Comprehensive gang and violence reduction programs: reinventing the square wheel”,
Criminology & Public Policy, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 1037-45.
Klein, M.W. and Maxson, C.L. (2006), Street Gang Patterns and Policies, Oxford University Press,
New York, NY.
Know, G. (1991), An Introduction to Gang, Van de Vere, Berrien Springs, MI.
Knox, G. (2002), The Vice Lords, New Chicago School Press, Peotone, IL.
Lachman, P., Caterina, G.R. and Cahill, M. (2013), “Assessing youth motivations for joining a peer group as risk
factors for delinquent and gang behavior”, Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 212-29.
Lim, S.S., Vadrevu, S., Chan, Y.H. and Basnyat, I. (2012), “Facework on facebook: the online publicness
of juvenile delinquents and youths-at-risk”, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Vol. 56 No. 3,
McDonald, K. (2003), “Marginal youth, personal identity, and the contemporary gang: reconstructing the
social world?”, in Kontos, L., Brotherton, D. and Barrios, L. (Eds), Gangs and Society, Columbia University
Press, New York, NY, pp. 62-74.
McGarrell, E.F., Corsaro, N., Melde, C., Hipple, N.K., Bynum, T. and Cobbina, J. (2013), “Attempting to
reduce firearms violence through a comprehensive anti-gang initiative (CAGI): an evaluation of process and
impact”, Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 41 No. 1, pp. 33-43.
Marcuse, P. (1997), “The enclave, the citadel, and the ghetto: what has changed in the post-Fordist U.S.
city”, Urban Affairs Review, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 228-64.
Marshall, K. (2012), “Progress reported in control of gangs”, Tulsa World, November 24, p. A1.
Mazrui, A. (1990), Cultural Forces in World Politics, J. Currey, London.
Melde, C. and Esbensen, F. (2013), “Gangs and violence: disentangling the impact of gang membership on
the level and nature of offending”, Journal Quant Criminol, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 143-66.
Melde, C., Diem, C. and Drake, G. (2012), “Identifying correlates of stable gang membership”, Journal of
Contemporary Criminal Justice, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 482-98.
VOL. 6 NO. 2 2014 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 95
Melvin, J. (2012), “Three federal agents shot, 19 people charged in Bay Area-wide gang sweep”, Contra
Costa Times, May 3, available at: www.contracostatimes.com/rss/ci_20538829 (accessed 12 August
Mitchell, C. (1989), The Structure of International Conflict, St Martin’s Press, New York, NY.
National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) (2009), “Gang threat assessment 2009”, available at: www.justice.
gov/ndic/pubs32/32146/gangs.htm#start (accessed 12 August 2012).
Nawojczyk, S. (1997), “The coroner’s report: Information and resources on gang intervention and
prevention”, November 29, available at: www.gangwar.com/ (accessed 12 August 2012).
Nevius, C.W. (2012), “Fear for safety? Stand up for neighborhood”, San Francisco Chronicle, April 2, p. C1.
Noguchi, S. (2013), “San Jose: As street violence mounts, city has lively anti-gang summit”, San Jose
Mercury News, February 2, available at: www.mercurynews.com/ci_22508185/san-jose-street-violence-
mounts-city-has-lively (accessed 7 August 2012).
O’Brien, K., Daffern, M., Chu, C.M. and Thomas, S.D.M. (2013), “Youth gang affiliation, violence, and
criminal activities: a review of motivational, risk, and protective factors”, Aggression and Violent Behavior,
Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 417-425.
Oehme, C. (1997), Gangs, Groups, and Crime, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, NC.
Olate, R., Salas-Wright, C. and Vaughn, M.G. (2012), “Predictors of violence and delinquency among
high risk youth and youth gang members in San Salvador, el Salvador”, International Social Work, Vol. 55
No. 3, pp. 383-401.
Orr, J. (2002), The Christian View of God and The World as Centering in the Incarnation: Being the First Series
of Kerr Lectures, Regent College Pub, Vancouver.
Papachristos, A.V. (2005), “Gang word”, Foreign Policy, Vol. 147, Mar/Apr, pp. 48-55.
Peralta, S. (2008), Crips and Bloods: Made in America (Motion Picture), Verso Entertainment & Balance
Vector Productions, Los Angeles, CA.
Pinion-Whitt, M. (2012), “Mother still struggles with loss of son, caught in the crossfire of suspected San
Bernardino gang violence”, San Jose Mercury News, June 15, available at: www.mercurynews.com/california/
ci_20868259/mother-still-struggles-loss-son-caught-crossfire-suspected (accessed 12 August 2012).
Pinkerson, J. (2012), “Ex-gang members find a friend at City Hall”, Houston Chronicle, November 24, p. B1.
Pruitt, D., Kim, S. and Rubin, J. (2004), Social Conflict, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.
Pyrooz, D.C. and Decker, S.H. (2012), “Delinquent behavior, violence, and gang involvement in China”,
Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 251-72.
Rankin, B. (2012), “3 adult gang roles, will testify”, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 25, p. B1.
Reynolds, J. (2012a), “Salinas gets $500,000 grant to interrupt gang violence”, The Monterey County
Herald, November 2, p. A1.
Reynolds, J. (2012b), “Residents get lesson in gang awareness”, The Monterey County Herald,
November 15, p. A1.
Riessman, C. (2008), Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences, Sage Publication, Los Angeles.
Riviello, R. (2010), Manual of Forensic Emergency Medicine: A Guide for Clinicians, Jones and Bartlett
Publishers, Sudbury, MA.
Rodriguez, L. (2005), “The end of the line: California gangs and the promise of street peace”, Social Justice,
Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 12-23.
Rosynsky, P.T. (2012), “Murder trial begins for gang member once featured on Discovery Channel”, Mercury
News, March 6, available at: www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_20108097/murder-trial-begins-
gang-member-once-featured-discovery (accessed 12 August 2012).
Sachs, S. (1997), Street Gang Awareness, Fairview Press, Minneapolis, MN.
Sanchez-Jankowski, M. (1991), Islands in the Street: Gangs and American Urban Society, University of
California Press, Berkeley.
PAGE 96 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 6 NO. 2 2014
Sanchez-Jankowski, M. (2003), “Gangs and social change”, Theoretical Criminology, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 191-216.
Sanders, W. (1994), Gangbangs and Drive-Bys, Aldine de Gruyter, New York, NY.
Schiller, D. (2012a), “Wild-living Aryan Brotherhood generals fall to Texas probe”, The Houston Chronicle,
June 11, p. A1.
Schiller, D. (2012b), “Feds target Aryan gang”, The Houston Chronicle, November 26, p. A1.
Seper, J. (2012), “Crips recruit girls for hooking-5 arrested in sex trafficking”, The Washington Times,
March 30, p. A01.
Simon, D. (2012), “Camden tries to strike back against rising violence”, The Philadelphia Inquirer,
August 5, p. B01.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (2011), “The 15 countries with the highest military
expenditure in 2011: background paper on SIPRI military expenditure data, 2011”, available at:
12 August 2012).
Thomas, C.R., Holzer, C. and Wall, J. (2013), “Serious delinquency and gang membership”, in Flaherty, L.
(Ed.), Adolescence Psychiatry: The Annals of the American Society For Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 27
Analytic Press, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 3-82.
Thornberry, T.P., Krohn, M.D., Lizotte, A.J., Smith, C.A. and Tobin, K. (2003), Gangs and Delinquency in
Developmental Perspective, Cambridge University Press, New York, NY.
Thrasher, F. (1927), The Gang, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.
Ulloa, E.C., Dyson, R.B. and Wynes, D.W. (2012), “Inter-partner violence in the context of gangs: a review”,
Aggression and Violent Behavior, Vol. 17 No. 5, pp. 397-404.
Underhill, J. (2009), Humboldt, Worldview and Language, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
Ury, W. (1993), Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations, Bantam Dell, New York, NY.
US Department of Justice (2009), “National gang threat assessment 2009”, available at: www.justice.gov/
ndic/pubs32/32146/activities.htm#start (accessed 7 August 2012).
US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau Intelligence, Safe Streets and Gang Unit (2006), “Understanding
gangs and gang mentality: acquiring evidence of gang conspiracy”, available at: www.usdoj.gov/usao/
reading_room/foiamanuals.html (accessed 7 August 2012).
US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (1997), “1995 national
youth gang survey”, available at: www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/164728.pdf (accessed 7 August 2012).
Vigil, J.D. (2002), A Rainbow of Gangs: Street Cultures in the Mega-City, University of Texas Press, Austin, TX.
Weisel, D.L. (2002), “The evolution of street gangs: An examination of form and variation”, in Reed, W.L. and
Decker, S.H. (Eds), Responding to Gangs: Evaluation and Research, US Department of Justice, Washington,
DC, pp. 25-66.
White, R. and Mason, R. (2006), “Youth gangs and youth violence: charting the key dimensions”, Australian
and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, Vol. 39 No. 1, pp. 54-70.
Winslade, J. and Monk, G. (2001), Narrative Mediation: A New Approach to Conflict Resolution,
Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA.
Benn, E. (2008), “Assault weapons multiply, take deadly toll”, Miami Herald, January 14, p. 1A.
Burdi, J. (2008), “11 alleged members of Top 6 gang arrested in Florida”, Sun Sentinel, June 28, pp. 1-2.
Burdi, J. (2009), “Cracking down on gangs in South Florida”, Sun Sentinel, February 15, pp. 1-3.
Donnellan, M.B., Trzesniewski, K.H., Robins, R.W., Moffitt, T.E. and Caspi, A. (2005), “Low self-esteem is
related to aggression, antisocial behavior, and delinquency”, Psychol Sci, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 328-55.
Folger, J., Poole, M. and Stutman, R. (2008), Working Through Conflict: Strategies for Relationships,
Groups, and Organizations, Allyn & Bacon, Boston, MA.
Stone, S. (2000), Contemporary Gang Issues, New Chicago School Press, Peotone, IL.
VOL. 6 NO. 2 2014 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 97
US Office of the Surgeon General (2001), “Youth violence: a report by the surgeon general”, available at:
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44294/ (accessed 7 August 2012).
Wilmot, W. and Hocker, J. (2007), Interpersonal Conflict, Mc-Graw-Hill, Madison, WI.
Kacey Shap can be contacted at: email@example.com
To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints
PAGE 98 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jVOL. 6 NO. 2 2014