Family is the basic unit of the society, as most people know, this is where social values are developed, which contributes in shaping the younger generation to become better citizens and individuals. However, the prevalence of gang groups involving youth encompasses a notion that family values insinuated by parents into their children is slowly diminishing. Given that parents have done their best to raise their children appropriately, occurrences of youth being exposed and associated themselves to gang groups still emerge. The question of whether the parents are still in control over their children, it is an issue that challenges the idea of involving parents in gang prevention and intervention. Some people believe that a juvenile’s involvement in a gang is a result of bad parenting. If such can be said about parents of involved youths. Therefore, the chance of improving the situation through parent’s involvement would not be as effective.
Aldridge et al. (2009) in his study of an effective prevention tool for youth involvement in gang groups question the idea of whether the parents should be held accountable for their children’s actions and if they should be the ones to be blamed about it. According to Aldridge et al. (2009) explores the effectiveness of parent-focused program for families with children involved in gang groups. It is apparent that gang membership is synonymous to offending and with parents being with their children at homes, should be the first people to observe if offending is demonstrated at home by their children. If such behavior is apparent at home; therefore, the likeliness of juveniles to commit offenses outside the household is high. Having said that, the first step of prevention should begin at home as the study suggests. However, if the weight of the problem began to increase to the point of the parents totally lost control of their children, intervention would be the best resort available to minimize the consequence. Despite having an intervention program to assist the parents in prevent gang membership; parents themselves are also required to take part in the intervention program to achieve the intended changed of the juvenile’s behaviors.
Aldridge et al. (2009) states in their study that family members particularly parents can potentially reduce gang membership. However, the interviews conducted in relation to the study reveals stories of parents experiencing harassment, death threats and violence when making direct involvement in eliminating their child’s involvement in gang groups. This information encompasses a dilemma among parents even if they too want to be involved in gang membership prevention. On the questions of can parental involvement reduce gang membership among teenagers; it appears from Aldridge et al. (2009) study it a very serious challenge to undertake. Another potential challenge mentioned in the study is the variation of family values and environment that teenagers have inside their homes. There are parents that are actively involved in crimes, thus insinuating an influence to their child to be the same way as their parents. Therefore, parents of that sort are less likely to get involved in reducing gang membership of their children.
Esbensen et al., (2001) conducted a study on similar subject and argued that parental participation is determined by the parent’s perception of what a gang is all about. This argument encompasses a parent’s tolerant nature towards their children. Normally gangs are characterized by common offending behavior and attitude towards authority. Some parents are at some point comes into a state of denial just to justify their children’s actions. For example, when a teenager often goes out at night, refuses to go to school and always in company with similarly behaving friends, parents sometimes fail to read between the lines. Other parent sees the picture as typical of puberty, but neglects to read the signs. This issue was explored in Esbensen et al., (2001) study to test what parents think about when a gang is a gang and the importance of knowing the difference. The study is to gauge parental perspectives of a gang and at which point should be worried about their children when the signs become apparent. In relation to Esbensen et al., (2001) the findings suggest that parental monitoring is an important step in the intervention process.
According to Robertson, Baird-Thomas and Stein (2008), parental monitoring can be an effective tool in mediating youth problem behaviors. Their study examines factors such as child victimization by adults, environmental experiences of the child and family characteristics that are attributed to the development of youth behavioral problems. Speaking about behavioral problems, gang members are commonly known for their destructive behaviors and a teenager associated to such crowd would only increase the prevalence or even intensify an existing problematic behavior. Occurrences of delinquency, abuse, drug use, premarital sex and criminal offences are typical in a gang environment, thus a teenager with a developing behavioral problem is possible to get involved in the group without the parents being aware. Therefore, in order for parents to prevent teenagers from getting associated to gangs, constant parental monitoring is needed (Robertson, Baird-Thomas and Stein, 2008).
In many ways, parents can do prevent teenagers from getting involved in gangs by becoming more engaged to the issue. The inverse relationship between the perceived problematic behavior between teenagers and parental control entails differential level of control over teenagers. Provided there is an effective way of supervision, parents would be able to take preventive measures at the onset of the problem to avoid negative consequences in which both the parents and the teenagers will suffer from. Depending on which factor appears to be demonstrated by the teenager in consideration to gender, parents can prevent them being involved in gang groups (Robertson, Baird-Thomas and Stein, 2008).
Aldridge, J., Shute, J., Ralphs, R., & Medina, J. (2009). Blame the Parents? Challenges for Parent-Focused Programmes for Families of Gang-Involved Young People. Children & Society, 25(5), 371-381. doi:10.1111/j.1099-0860.2009.00282.x
Esbensen, F., Winfree, L. T., He, N., & Taylor, T. J. (2001). Youth Gangs and Definitional Issues: When is a Gang a Gang, and Why Does it Matter? Crime & Delinquency, 47(1), 105-130. doi:10.1177/0011128701047001005
Robertson, A. A., Baird-Thomas, C., & Stein, J. A. (2008). Child victimization and parental monitoring as mediators of youth behavioral problems. Crim Justice Behav, 35(6), 755-771.