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What causes some teens to join gangs? Among the most common reasons are:

  • to belong to a group;
  • receive protection;
  • earn money;
  • end boredom and seek more excitement;
  • be with friends and be more popular.
  • For some it is even a family tradition.

None of these reasons are good reasons to belong to a gang. Most of the other kids who don't belong to a gang will be afraid of you and won't hang out with you. If you think you will be safer joining a gang, you're wrong. Most likely, you win increase your chances of being injured or killed. Think you'll be rich? Not likely. Over a lifetime, gang members make far less money than those who are not in gangs. And by joining you usually don't end up with a good education, making it hard to find a good job.

Joining a gang is like entering enemy territory. Belonging to a gang has a warlike existence where beatings and shootings happen all the time. Typical scenarios of joining a gang involve violence and rape. Boys usually have to fight several other gang members at the same time-this is called being "rolled-in" or "walking the line." Girls may be forced to have sex with several gang members or fight other female gang members. New members may be required to prove themselves by beating up an innocent person, robbing a store, or shooting someone-including drive-by shootings. If you break the rules after joining a gang, your punishment may be death.


Innocent Cartoons... Or Something to Think About??
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New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
25 Market Street, P.O. Box 085
Trenton, NJ 08625-0085
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