Most female gangs are either African American or Latina, although there are small but increasing numbers of Asian and white female gangs. Autonomy and male dominance, which are ongoing issues for all female gangs, tend to vary with ethnicity. For example, gender expectations in each ethnic group might suggest that African American and white female gang members would be more autonomous and Latinas more subordinate to males. They usually are, but not always. In other words, there is no universal ethnic continuum. Indeed, some factors related to female autonomy and male dominace affect gang members regardless of ethnicity.
Male unemployment and the incarceration of the many males who are convicted of illegal economic activities remove males from both Latino and African American households. As a result, women must rely on their own resources to support themselves and their children.
Female gang formation shows that gang formation (for both males and females) is related to deteriorating inner-city economic conditions. General economic conditions influence male and female gangs alike, but a related issue applies specifically to women: how welfare reform and the elimination of Aid to Families with Dependent Children affect female gang formation and gang persistence.
In my studies I found that the reasons for joining gangs are for, friendship, solidarity, self-affirmation, and a sense of new possibilities are found to motivate young inner-city females to join and remain in gangs. Several studies found that the female gang may be a refuge from physical and sexual abuse at home. Although sexual victimization is difficult to study, an understanding of it is relevant to programs designed like "WWITS Mentoring Program" to keep adolescent females out of gangs and other programs need to be designed to intervene with or provide safe havens for female to come out of gangs. There are a few programs already put in place in the city of Camden that I plan to meet with to gather additional information that may provide us with a better understanding of why females join gangs. I believe that once this information is researched it may help communities develop prevention programs to deter female gang membership.
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