Not just another thug : the implications of defining youth gangs in a prairie city
Urban centers and smaller communities across Canada are witnessing an increase in youth gang activity. But, determining both the level and nature of youth gang involvement/activity is problematic, in part because of varied interpretations of what it means to be a gang. Many Canadians believe that a gang is a structured organization with crime as their main objective. However, youth gangs can range from associations involving a loosely organized collective of friends that come together to protect their neighborhood to that of the hardcore gangs who have political agendas and are structurally organized. It is much more difficult to determine the level and nature of youth gang activity because they are ever changing entities depending on factors such as race, socio-economic status, and community. Youth gangs become a burden to society financially, emotionally, and mentally. Costs are incurred due to vandalism and an increase in crime: while anguish and a heightened sense of fear/anxiety speak to the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects resulting from gang activities. This study is a qualitative analysis that focuses on how agencies in Saskatoon define youth gang activities and behaviors. The agencies involved constitute community based organizations, permanent and part-time holding residences, justice and city officials. Grounded theory analysis was utilized to maintain the original interviewees own voices from interviews to the final product. The final analysis is divided into three sections that focus on: characteristics of Saskatoon youth gangs, implications of defining, and programming. By analyzing these themes we begin to see that defining youth gangs becomes a very political issue and that agencies who work with youth have difficulty in coming to terms in creating a common definition of youth gangs for Saskatoon.
definition, assessment, criteria, gang activities, political implications, youth gangs, youth, Aboriginal, behaviours
Master of Education (M.Ed.)