gang and self esteemDo gangs help or hinder the development of self-esteem? Why or Why not?

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kiwi's profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I think #10 has expressed the point really well. The esteem produced by being part of a gang is for the collective, not the individual. Developing one's self-esteem involves having the confidence to make decisions for oneself. Although gang culture can give a sense of reward, entitlement and social structure, the criminal activity and moral dilemmas that are presented and ignored within gangs can stunt the growth of the self-esteem that was fostered in the short term.

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I would agree with #9; gangs promote belonging but not self-esteem or self-worth. They foster a sense of entitlement -- I am in this gang, I am special -- but they are also hierarchical structures with clearly defined power. You are a member, but you are not worth anything unless you produce for the gang. When you stop producing, you have no worth. I would argue that gang members fundamentally believe themselves to be worthless, and are grateful to the gang for giving them some sense of purpose. If we strive to instill a sense of worth in our children, they won't need approval from an outer source to feel self-worth.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Sorry to disagree with most of those who posted previously; but I tend to agree with bullgatortail on this one. Those who join gangs do so out of a need to feel a sense of belonging; gang members normally have little or no future, and gangs provide a void in their lives. To that extent, they provide some temporary form of self esteem. However, any such gain is a phyrric victory at best. Members of gangs uniformly know they are rejects from society and that gang activities are normally frowned upon by society. The end result is an outward display of scorn for societal standards and at times anger; which masks the deep lack of self esteem they feel inwardly. It is hard for me to morph a sense of belonging into a feeling of self worth when the end game is almost always rejection and possibly prison.  

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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It's difficult, I think, to associate gangs with anything positive, so therefore it's also difficult to think of them as self-esteem builders, when that is actually one of the main reasons why teens join gangs.  They are looking for a sense of worth, power and belonging they can't find in family, school or community, and while the social and personal cost is very high to join these gangs, self esteem is improved by doing so.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Gangs raise a person's self-esteem in terms of a sense of pride and belonging to a family. The individuals who join gangs do so to feel protected and included. However, once in the gang the self-esteem will go down, because they will likely be victimized and brutalized by the gang members and ordered around, losing their sense of individualism.
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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

I agree with some of the above post in that gang members feel a sense of belonging to a family. That is what gang members are looking for. They desire to have a family and the gang supports that desire. Gang activity can be violent which is what makes the gang so dangerous. Nevertheless, the members do feel that the gang is what they have been longing for--a sense of belonging. Ultimately, this sense of belonging will cease when the gang members are arrested for illegal activities. Then the realization that the gang is only a superficial family will set in. The violence that is a part of a gang makes the gang membership undesirable in the end. Sometimes, it is too late to get out.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I, also, must agree with posters #2 and #3. People who tend to join gangs are those with low self esteem and feel as if they do not belong anywhere. The gang creates a sense of family--all for one, one for all. The members of a gang look out for one another and are typically led by a "father figure." While this term is not recognized, there is always the one in charge, who hands down the rules, and insures his "family" is taken care of. No different from the typical family, when rules are broken, members are punished. Unfortunately, many of the actions by gangs are illegal and violent; but, this does not take away from the members' feelings of belonging.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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While I am by no means advocating that people should be in gangs, I tend to agree with the second response.  It is my understanding that gang members are generally from dysfunctional families, from school districts that are marginal, at best, with few, if any, employment prospects.  Most of us develop a sense of self-esteem through family that values us and through performance at school and work.  If these do not exist in our environment, it makes complete sense to me that a person would want to belong in a kind of family or community that conferred a sense of belonging and importance.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I can't agree at all with Post 2.  Gangs can be instrumental in boosting someone's self-esteem.

Look at who tends to join gangs.  It is youths who have generally lost out in our society.  They are generally (not always, of course) people who are both poor themselves and are living in areas where many others are poor.  They can see successful people on TV and when they go outside their neighborhoods and they know they have not succeeded.  They go to school and realize they aren't doing well.  They have no sense that they can accomplish anything or that they can be valuable.

Then they join a gang and all of a sudden they belong.  They belong to a group that feels successful and powerful (if only because it can intimidate others).  This sense of belonging and power is something they will not have experienced in the rest of their lives.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Assuming we are not talking about frats, sororities and other non-gang related social groups, I don't see how gangs can possibly help a person's self-esteem--unless it is to promote confidence in carrying out the various illegal activities in which gangs are involved. Gangs remind me of the lemmings who follow the leader in taking the plunge from the cliff to their deaths. Feeling better or more confident about the criminal acts they commit is not a positive way of bettering one's self-esteem.

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c--------- | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

i am agree with the no 10 as truely the gangs contribute to the sense of belongingness but not to the self esteem.a person may portrae himself proud to be a member of a specific gang. but inwarsd reality of the gang can be opposite, as he may have no worth in the group.

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