Whenever we discuss the issue of street gangs in California, a question that tends to keep on coming up is the one as to why parents allow their kids to join the gangs. This is a difficult question to answer. Parents, for the most part, have their kids best interests at heart. Parents are also expected to know, through experience, that gangs are not good – and that joining a gang predisposes a kid to various poor outcomes in life. So, given these facts, why is it that parents allow their kids to join gangs?
As it turns out, parents don’t (usually) allow their kids to join gangs. Rather, the kids tend to join the gangs against their parents wishes, or even without their parents knowing.
It is to be appreciated that many parents do tend to lose control of their kids at some point during the (kids’) teenage years. This is especially so for parents who used antagonistic methods of upbringing earlier on in the kids’ lives (like, for instance, those who used to beat up the kids as they were growing). So a point comes when the parent can no longer beat up the kid. And the kid, at this point, knows that he or she can do whatever they want – including joining gangs… This, then, is why we advocate for positive parenting styles, where parents should try to win the confidence of their kids, and to become friends with their kids. That way, then, they can continue being in a position to influence the kids as the kids grow up into young adults.