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Healing Connections: Rising Above the Gang

NCJ Number
Journal of Gang Research Volume: 16 Issue: 2 Dated: Winter 2009 Pages: 27-55
Tania Lafontaine; Sharon Acoose; Bernard Schissel
Date Published
29 pages
This study explored contemporary urban gangs through the perspectives of Aboriginal youth in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Study results provided depth of understanding and compassion for the struggles of gang members; showed that public and popular cultural discourses about gangs are often definitionally misguided; and found that, despite popular opinion, gangs are not attractive or ideal social outlets. The youth revealed a profound understanding of why people join gangs, especially when their social networks and security are jeopardized. Findings suggest that gangs can create micro-communities for people in need, but gangs also tend to disintegrate the community at large, especially with respect to the police and the maintenance of social order. The importance of both parental and other forms of support in the lives of marginalized youth was demonstrated. A serious gesture toward dealing with gangs as a social problem must uncover avenues of support for youth who are healthy and assure that the police have a primary role to play in a strategy that promotes both justice and security. Noted is that the solutions to developing effective measures for gang reduction lie within those youth who are actively choosing not to join gangs, but whose lives are embedded in a quest for meaning. Data were collected from 30 Aboriginal children and youth between the ages of 12 and 25 from within the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada. References