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I am a mommy, scribe, and middle-school English teacher. I am trying to cope with being separated from my beloved. DoUWantMore? email me: theprisonerswife@gmail.com

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Gangbanging, A Mental Illness?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 6:45 PM

so, as i do every weekend, i peruse the NY Times & The LA Times for interesting articles about real estate, education, and an update on the homicide rate in LA County. for the record, the number of homicides in LA County is nearing 700 (692 & counting. see my previous post). insanity.

this week, while reading The Homicide Blog, i came across an interview with Kenny Mitchel, the founder of Gangster's Anonymous, a 12-step program for recovering Gangbangers. the interview & his premise that Gangbanging is a mental illness is very interesting. my first thought was to dismiss this idea. i'm sure many gang members suffer from a myriad of mental illnesses, including depression, but to call bangin ITSELF an illness...i'm not completely sold.

over these past two years as a teacher i noticed that many of my students are fascinated with or are satellite members of gangs. i didn't really understand their fascination with gang life, especially considering the devistating effects gangs have had on our communities. however, i realized that my students weren't alive to witness the constant shootings, and beef over colors, and strife of the 80s. the OGs that COULD speak on these issues are dead, in jail, or have just moved on to other things. so, these kids create their own idealized versions of the gangster lifestyle, based on what they THINK happened.

it makes sense.

when i sit to think about it, i realized that most of my students live in a single-parent household or come from the foster care system, and have a problematic view of families, or really have no "family" to speak of. this lack of family forces them to forge their own bonds--dysfunctional as they may be--out of others just like them. a clique, a set, and a gang is born out of fear, and perhaps longing for love.

but does this longing for a family qualify as a mental illness? will classifying banging as an illness help stop the spread of gangs?

gangs--bloods and crips, MS13, Folks, Disciples--are not just an urban problem anymore. i remember watching a documentary that focused on the spread of LA street gangs, specifically bloods and crips throughout Latin and Central America and even as far away as New Zealand (i.e. the Tongan Crip Gang). i was amazed to see just how far they have spread. this new breed of gangs is like wildfire, burning through the hearts and minds of our youth.

so, perhaps it is an illness.

it is as potent and as deadly as any contemporary disease. and so far...there is little to no end in sight.

5 Response to 'Gangbanging, A Mental Illness?'

  1. Christina Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2007/10/gangbanging-mental-illness.html?showComment=1193146500000#c599279477795002866'> Tuesday, October 23, 2007 6:35:00 AM

    As usual you have brought something to my attention that is worth thinking about. Mental illness... there may be some validity to it. I don't know though, I'm going to think about this one.
    Thanks for this!

     

  2. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2007/10/gangbanging-mental-illness.html?showComment=1193167620000#c6579391371737765738'> Tuesday, October 23, 2007 12:27:00 PM

    i had that illness we aint bang we made loot - FOLK

     

  3. Ananda Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2007/10/gangbanging-mental-illness.html?showComment=1193288040000#c6138164367017551661'> Wednesday, October 24, 2007 9:54:00 PM

    the point that you made about gangs as families made sense. tyoy for sharing the info.

     

  4. LyteNLuvLee Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2007/10/gangbanging-mental-illness.html?showComment=1193380140000#c6441197179720917531'> Thursday, October 25, 2007 11:29:00 PM

    That is interesting...in more ways than one.

    I have to say that I don't believe it's a mental illness in itself, but it may be as a result of a few.

    It just goes to show how society works. These kids have no idea what a family is. They are just lost out there. No one really cares about them. There is no village for them to grow up in that is free from violence.

     

  5. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2007/10/gangbanging-mental-illness.html?showComment=1193454180000#c7982937742297982243'> Friday, October 26, 2007 8:03:00 PM

    chris: you're welcome. i like to post interesting things such as these to get us all thinking & talking.

    torrance: word.

    ananda: you're welcome. thank you for stopping by.

    lyten: keep your son safe, sis. we don't want him to fall victim to the path of our loved ones.