Into The Abyss:
A Personal Journey into the World of Street Gangs

by Mike Carlie, Ph.D.        
Michael K. Carlie
Continually updated.

~ Table of Contents ~
Home | Foreword | Preface | Orientation

What I Learned | Conclusions
End Note |
| Appendix
Site Map / Contents
| New Research

Up-To-Date Gang-Related News

Chapter 25: 
Social Institution Solutions


"Programs to reduce gang violence must involve a wide array of agencies, including schools, community-based agencies, churches, and the justice system. Programs must be targeted appropriately for prevention, intervention, suppression, and rehabilitation purposes."  (Pennell, 1994)

As noted in the Orientation to Into the Abyss, sociologists tend to take a social institutional perspective when explaining human behavior. As the previous chapters have shown, individual citizens, family members, former gang members, and neighborhood residents all have a role to play in reducing gang activity and youth violence. There are other social institutions that have an important role to play. 

Each of the following parts of this chapter is dedicated to a different social institution including public sector social institutions (schools, government, the justice system, and community-based youth-serving agencies) and private sector social institutions (the faith and business communities, health care, and the media). The chapter concludes with a review of how we may go about making our efforts more effective through specialization and community-wide involvement.

Before we proceed, I want to note a concern expressed by some researchers in the treatment community that affects efforts by individuals and agencies attempting to reduce delinquency by placing at-risk youth in group treatment programs. Many years ago, social workers in Chicago learned that organizing street youth who were delinquent in an effort to make them less delinquent actually increased their delinquency. In a recent research report it was again confirmed that "Grouping high-risk youths in early adolescence may inadvertently reinforce problem behavior." (Williams, 2003, p. 1)

Although some group treatment programs have been known to be successful, there are others with results that are disappointing. When working with gang youth, there is always the risk of putting them in a group treatment setting only to find that the treatment itself brings the group closer together, makes it better organized, helps identify leaders, and aids them in becoming more effective as a gang rather than reducing their delinquency. I raise this concern only to inform a decision on your part to create or participate in a group treatment program with high-risk youth, not to impede or obstruct it.


2002 Michael K. Carlie
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the author and copyright holder - Michael K. Carlie.