Growing Up In the Hood
Is it a coincidence that highly urbanized areas are full of crime and always statistically higher than small towns and rural areas? A child that is being brought up in a metropolitan area that is full of violent crimes is flooded in a sense and has nothing to do but to breath in some of the negative influences that go on around him. Therefore, I believe that the most influential scene in a child's life is the neighborhood that he grows up in. Parents cannot constantly watch over their children, ask about whom they are hanging out with, constantly check where they are, and find out what they are getting themselves into? (Statistics p348)
When a child is growing up he is frequently asked what he is going to do for money when he gets older. The more this question is asked to them, the more they feel like they have to have money to be happy in life. After many tries of trying to make a stable life at a low paying job, a criminal life maybe more appealing to them at they may start living life under the gun. As stated by William Wilson in When Work Disappears, "Neighborhoods plagued by high levels of joblessness are more likely to experience low levels of social organization, they go hand in hand." In Chicago for instance, in 1990 there was only one in three in the twelve ghetto communities that had held a job in a typical workweek of the year. When there are high rates of joblessness bigger problems surface such as violent crime, gang violence, and drug trafficking. (Wilson P356-362)
These crime-ridden communities (or ghettos) are springing up all through the country, mainly in and around major metropolitan areas. These areas are the most populated, so that means that within these areas are the most people there to be influenced by the crimes committed by fellow people. In Male's reading he shows statistics that prove the fact that once the poverty factor is taken away then teen violence disappears. He later adds, "That if America wants to rid of juvenile violence than serious consideration needs to be given to the societally inflicted violence of raising three to 10 times more youth in poverty than other Western nations." (Males p386)
As stated by Elijah Anderson, "Just living in a low-income area gives most residents less hope for there own future." They see that their only way to succumb to their loss of hope is to make themselves happy by joining a gang and getting a family-like feeling or committing crimes to obtain money or other material objects. Elijah Anderson states that there are however, forces that can counteract all the influence fed to a child on the streets, that is a strong and loving family committed to middle class values. Yet, like said before, we cannot rest all this weight onto parents, if a parent is too strict with their child and sets too many rules and guidelines the child may want to rebel against them. When a child finds no positive feedback at home "the street", in his mind, is the next best alternative. Rules on the streets are very opposite to the norms that are within a middle-class decent family, yet they are similar in respect. For example, in the average home life a great deal of respect is paid to the father who is usually the money maker in the family, on the streets however, that same amount of respect is paid to the lead of a gang or to a drug dealer. In ways they are similar but they are on different levels of the spectrum, one is trying to make a good home life for his family and the other is trying to lead his "family" to higher positions on he streets. (Anderson 363-368)
I know that there are other factors that may influence a child at a young age to be violent such as physical or sexual abuse from the parents, a broken home-life, and violent media. The parental influence can be ruled out by looking at the writings of Timothy Egan, the school killers' parents were not abusive nor were all but one of them divorced or speaking of it. The parents based the blame on the "junk culture" that surrounded their child, but shouldn't they have paid attention to what there kids were in to and if it was negative shouldn't they have swayed them away from it. (Egan p338-339)
Another influence that is under fire is the violent media. Violent rap music that has lyrics depicting murders and other violent acts is telling kids that their music idols do it so shouldn't they? Teens are easily influenced, and when they have their favorite rapper preaching about all the people they have killed and all the drugs they do, some teens take it to heart. Another example is movies and violent television programs that always show the hero with guns or other violent weapons, that too makes teens want to be like someone that would, in real life, be thrown in prison. (Ross p407)
I don't believe that negative media and abusive parents are as significant as living in a crime ridden, low income area. Parental and media influences can be directed in a more positive direction. Therapy can be given to abused children and their parents or guardians that they live with. Parents of children who watch violent television and negative music can turn it off when there is something violent on so their child doesn't soak it in. But what can be done for children living in a ghetto? Proper government housing that is controlled and monitored is a good start and certain gun laws could be put into affect but when guns are outlawed, outlaws will be the only ones with guns, so as you can see it is a vicious cycle with almost no end.
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Growing Up In the Hood