Podcast 3 – The lure of gangs
Following on from our last podcast about gangs, we thought it best to listen to the young people whose lives are impacted by them to learn more about their experiences and what would entice them to join. Tragically, the picture that emerges is of a whole generation feeling under threat. For many there does not feel a choice, if you want protection you have to be within a gang, despite the risks it will bring. If you can’t beat them, join them. We are hearing daily of young people from age 10 upwards who feel that their neighbourhood is controlled by gangs, and it is no longer safe to go out and socialise, play football, run errands or be alone in their neighbourhoods. It seems the young feel particularly targeted. It is as if their fear and vulnerability is palpable. After all, the gang members are often only children themselves and can read the minds of those who are intimidated, they too were on the other side once before, they too once had innocence, and fear.
Naturally, the young crave status, a leg up from being at the bottom of the pile, or as one young man said in a previous podcast – it’s about being found, a needle previously lost in a haystack. Status seems to be marked these days by the clothes they wear and the branding. To be someone you have to have the wardrobe. This glamour will both make you attractive and powerful. Money however is hard to come by. More often than not, these children are growing up in deprived neighbourhoods. Payment from gangs for ‘duties’ pays the bills. Money is earned through drugs. Drugs can anaesthetise the fear.
The lives of already deprived children are being ruled by a subculture that we have ignored for too long. The problem is growing not lessening. Last week, head hung on table, just out from a school detention for misbehaviour, a 11 year told me how he had been held up by his local gang within the perimeter of their council football area, got home late to a telling off from his irate worried mother, told no one of his ordeal for fear of reprisals. His spirits were in tatters, he felt his vitality sapped, he described his world as shrinking. No wonder he had had a bad day at school.
Others in the ‘Behind the Headlines’ series:
Written and recorded by Tish Feilden
Co-Founder and Lead Therapist