Gangs Attractive to Some Students

By Grecia Bartolo
(The names used in this article are not the students’ real names.)
     In our community we have some students that are members of gangs. Some students belong to these gangs - MS 13, LDS, MC, and LWL - and there might be more.
     Friends influence these students who belong to gangs. Teenagers look for people that will accept them. “I joined LDS because my friends were in the crew,” Ivan said.
     Another reason to join a gang is because they want people to be afraid of them. Also, by joining a gang they get more friends respect and control. “I was happy to join a gang because my friends told me that everyone would respect me,” Luisa said.
     Some students look for comfort that they don’t find in their families. “My parents were always, busy so I thought that my friends would be always for me,” Marcos said.
     To be accepted in a gang, there are some requirements. For boys to get into a gang they have to be hit by some strong gang members. “I was kicked many times so that at the end I couldn’t breathe,” Marcos said. Being hit by the crew is a pact that represents acceptance for the new member. They use violence because they think that’s the only way that they can be listened to or respected. For girls they have two choices, either sex or a beating.
     To represent the gang there are many symbols. “We have a tattoo that represents the crew but I haven’t gotten one,” Moises said.
     “I have a tattoo that represent my gang, I feel proud to have something that would always remind me of my homies,” a student added.
     But having a tattoo can make life harder because the tattoo is always there. An ex-gang member said, “When I was in LMM I got a tattoo. I did it because all the homies had it. Now I regret it because I have too many problems with other gang members, even now that I am retired,” Willey said.
     The members of gangs don’t feel safe. “I am always worried because we always have problems with rival gangs. So I am always watching my back,” a student said.
     Being in a gang there are a lot of risks. In some cases you have to decide between your friends or family. “I prefer not to talk about my family with the crew. I don’t want to put them in any risk,” Ivan said.
     Once a person gets in a gang, it’s sometimes hard to get out. There are some cases where they prefer to kill them or hurt them so they cannot live normal lives. “To be in a gang is for life,” one gang member said. “There is no way you can forget the homies,” Marcos said. Here in Maryland a story was reported in the newspaper about a teenager who was trying to get out of MS 13 but he couldn’t. They preferred to kill him.
     Because there is a lot of risk, some people said that if they could go back, they would prefer to not join a gang. “The best thing that students can do is finish school. Education is the only way that you can break barriers,” Luisa said.
     Being a member of a gang affects many things. Teenagers think that being a member of a gang is about parties, fun and control. The reality is that violence and death are included.
© Copyright Silver International Newspaper, Montgomery Blair H.S. 2004 (This page was created by Jose)