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Wannabe : Gangs in Suburbs and Schools - Daniel Monti


Gangs in Suburbs and Schools


Published: 5th December 1994
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Wannabe is the first book written about youth gangs in suburbs and schools. Based on interviews with over 400 boys and girls between the ages of ten and twenty, the author offers a vivid portrayal of their lives in and around gangs. It chronicles the way in which suburban youths become involved with gangs, learn about committing crimes and violent acts, and gradually begin to question their loyalty to gang life. Contrary to the popular view of gang members as thoughtless thugs, Monti describes the difficult choices they make and explores the youngsters' ambivalence toward dealing in illegal narcotics and taking up arms against neighbors and their fellow students. Youngsters use gangs to express their disdain for an adult world that provides them with few effective ways to become a conventional person and, at the same time, as a means to negotiate an entrance into that very world.
Suburban gangs are seen to be different from inner-city gangs in some important ways. What young persons find in their families, neighborhoods, and schools clearly has an impact on the making and unmaking of gang members. Existing theories and intervention strategies intended to suppress gangs or lure youngsters from gangs are found to be ineffective. Far more important, Monti argues, are explanations of gang behavior that focus on the power of conventional institutions to make human beings that move from gangs into the larger world as the youngsters grow older. An ambitious plan to rebuild a middle-class population of residents and business owners in cities is advanced as a way to help young persons make their way into the conventional adult world that has heretofore been denied them.

"This is a book that generates rich insights into a disturbingsocietal problem bedevilling our entire nation. People who dealwith children but who have little personal knowledge about theneighborhoods and streets where children live their private lives... will gain a new outlook on the emotional scarring that childrensuffer in gangs, a new appreciation of the scope and extent of thedestructive dilemma gangs pose for our way of life, and a newunderstanding of how best to approach the challenge of formulatingconstructive efforts of prevention and rehabilitation in localurban, suburban, and rural communities across the United States."Thomas Shannon, National School Boards Association, USA

"Wannabe is a poignant reminder of just how difficult itwill be to develop public policy designed to control the 'youthgangs' which so terrorize both urban and suburban neighborhoods.Dan Monti's contribution is the brutal honesty of his work. Thewords, however, are not his own. He lets the gang-bangers andwannabes tell their stories. Chilling stories, 'out of the mouthsof babes', about children and young adults who moonlight asorganized criminals and contract killers. God help us! We will needit." Robert Destro, Catholic University School of Law, Formermember United States Commission on Civil Rights

"Dan Monti's study of the Fairview School District was in-depthand a revealing description of the impact of gangs on school-ageyouth and the school environment .... Read and take heed, this ishappening in your school district." Superintendent, FairviewSchool District

"Wannabe is very well written, very interesting, andcertainly of great importance in understanding how our society isto deal with some of its most intractable problems. I was struck bythe fact that gangs serve as a focus of identity for those who jointhem, not because it is a new idea, but because our schools havebeen systematically stripped of any affective qualities - anythingthat might provide an alternative sense of identity." DianeRavitch, The Brookings Institution

Foreword by Edwin J. Delattre vii

Acknowledgements xi

1 Introduction 1

2 Gangs in the World of Children 21

3 Coming of Age 51

4 Going Along with the Program 96

5 Learning to Ride a Bicycle 130

Index 172

ISBN: 9781557866158
ISBN-10: 1557866155
Series: Making Contemporary Britain
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 192
Published: 5th December 1994
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.68 x 15.11  x 1.47
Weight (kg): 0.3
Edition Number: 1