What Causes a Kid to Join a Gang?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

A couple of months ago I read a blog post written by J. Warner Wallace about the importance of fathers that struck a nerve in me. I had a good father while I grew up (still do), and I have tried to be a good father for my kids, but I see too many examples around me of fathers who are absent, or who are around, but don’t seem to engage at all with their children.

Wallace worked as a Gang Detail officer in the early 90’s and listen to what he saw:

Our city was culturally and ethnically diverse, and we had a gang problem that seemed to transcend ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic boundaries. We had wealthy Korean gangsters, middle class white gangsters, and upper, middle class and lower class Hispanic and African-American gangsters.

Wallace wondered what the common denominator was that drove kids from so many different backgrounds into gangs. Here is his answer:

Many of the white gangsters had fathers that were uninvolved, alcoholic or “deadbeat” dads. Many of the Korean fathers were first generation Koreans who never learned the English language, started businesses in our community and worked so hard that they had absolutely no relationship with their sons.

Some of the Hispanic fathers were incarcerated and most of our Hispanic gangsters came from a multi-generational gang culture. Many of the African-American gangsters told me that they never even knew their father; they had been raised by mothers and grandmothers without their biological dads.

Over and over again I saw the same thing: young men who were wandering without direction or moral compass, in large part because they didn’t have a father at home to teach them. Many studies have confirmed my own anecdotal observations.

Wallace’s advice to Christian fathers: teach your children. Citing Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Wallace says the following:

This is the role and duty of fathers; to teach our kids to embrace the image of God in which they were created. So today, . . . I would like all of the fathers who read this post to recognize their debt to their own fathers. If your father was absent, be grateful that you have a chance to do what he never did. Be a dad. Start teaching your kids. Take the words of Dr. Tony Evans to heart:

“It is a fool who says. ‘I do not tell my children what to believe’, because if you don’t, someone else will. The drug addicts are commanding your children and your children are obeying. The lust mongers are commanding your daughters and your daughters are obeying. For God’s sake YOU command something!”

There is some solid advice.

  • barry

    “What Causes a Kid to Join a Gang?”

    4 “I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords; (Ezek. 38:4 NAU)
    16 and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It shall come about in the last days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I am sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog.” (Ezek. 38:16 NAU)

    9 The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. (Prov. 16:9 NAU)

    5 Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hands is My indignation,
    6 I send it against a godless nation And commission it against the people of My fury To capture booty and to seize plunder, And to trample them down like mud in the streets.
    7 Yet it does not so intend, Nor does it plan so in its heart, But rather it is its purpose to destroy And to cut off many nations. (Isa. 10:5-7 NAU)

    28 “The LORD will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart;
    29 and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.
    30 “You shall betroth a wife, but another man will violate her; (Deut. 28:28-30 NAU)
    63 “It shall come about that as the LORD delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the LORD will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it. (Deut. 28:63 NAU)

    21 The LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. (Exod. 4:21 NAU)

    19 Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.
    20 “The LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that.
    21 “Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’
    22 “The LORD said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’
    23 “Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you.” (1 Ki. 22:19-23 NAU)

    18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
    19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”
    20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?
    21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
    22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? (Rom. 9:18-22 NAU)