In our small town Caribbean society any persistent social issue has potential humongous impact. One such social issue is that of the appeal of the gang for many youth. Interestingly enough some might miss it, so let it be re-emphasized. The social issue is not so much the gang in and of itself. Why? Because society evolves and whatever is found to no longer be working changes form or stops all together. The fact that the gang remains shows that the issue is in the appeal for youth.
Is the Gang all bad?
And who says that the idea of a gang is bad or has to be bad even. Well not the Oxford English Dictionary! There is the definition of gang as a group of people who regularly meet and do things together. So honestly, are we not all in a gang of some sort? Bottom line is, a gang is just another name for group. Yet understandably we shy away from the use of the word since the other meaning seems to be reigning supreme. It’s the one we readily go to, the idea of the gang as an organized group of young people who join forces and oppose or intimidate others.
Kool & the Gang
For those old or ancient enough to know, there was a singing group called “Kool & the Gang.” And this is significant since if one were to see it from the side of the youth in the gang, they and all gang members are quite cool. It’s society aka the others aka the outsiders who don’t get it and are uncool.
Our uncool Society
What doesn’t our Caribbean society seem to be getting? Simply that society’s main agents of socialization are the ones who surrender their children to the gang daily. The gang has been doing these socializing agents a favour for years by recruiting and embracing the child whose parents and family have left them on their own, to fend for themselves either physically, emotionally or both. The gang has also realized there are many avenues for helping by finding those youth in schools where the curriculum and sometimes even teachers demotivate and frustrate. And so in the arms of the gang the youth walks and is welcomed. So how is the gang bad again? The gang seems quite loving, caring, helpful and downright cool, doesn’t it?
For one thing, society in unison can highlight the criminal activity of the gang and how others and/or their property are hurt or harmed. Yes! This is undeniable.
Now hear this! Now hear this! The gang might argue that they were born of the society and so the society is reaping what it has sowed. What is a common theme of the gang? Oppression, frustration, aggression mixed with loyalty for the family aka gang. Who oppressed, frustrated, and created the aggression within? The Society! And so the law of the gang forms a subset of the law of the land and in the New World it’s the subset law that reigns supreme.
Fighting fire with fire
War on the gang! And the gang says bring it on. Because they are those who know the tough life, know how to suppress pain and push through, know how to numb pain and most importantly know how to fight. So bring it on. And guess what the opportunities are welcome to letting society know what is really thought of it.
Crime is crime and must be dealt with accordingly; this is not therefore a plea to ignore criminal activity; what it is though is an exploration of the psychology of the gang. Why? So our small town society can reduce the social issue of the appeal of the gang for our youth. Why? In order to support our limited human resources instead of it being further limited by some with fantastic potential opting out very early. Why? For encouraging the evolution of the gang over time to morph more toward the group of people who meet regularly and do things together that support their local society and that of the region.
Do tell then, what and where you can consider ways in which we:
provide the Next
Might you be able to hear a youth out and manage their distress in due time. Might you be able to support vulnerable youths? Might you be able to support ‘at risk’ youth. Might you be in a position to make/change/enforce laws? Might you be in a position to strength the family patterns in your location? Might you introduce some sporting activity or mentor a youth? This can go on and on and begin a new article all together. So let’s stop her. But then again please don’t … do something.
So let’s get down on it…
By Kerriann Toby
Kerriann Toby holds a Master of Counselling and Bachelor of Psychology. She is a dynamic therapist, trained mediator; and educator since 2000. In addition to being a trained educator, mediator and therapist, she is a certified Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) Professional. Kerriann has also trained in cybercounselling and holds clinical registration with Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) & Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).
In mid-October 2015 she initiated operations of KarryOn geared toward the provision of a variety of enhancement and developmental services for the individual, groups and the organization; e-Coaching/Counseling, Mediation, EAP Services and the creative presentation of psycho-social information. She can be reached at: email@example.com.