Free Essay

Teen and Gangs

In: Social Issues

Submitted By iitsqueeneyy
Words 2210
Pages 9
Research Paper
Social Research Methods

Research Question: What are the main factors that lead teenagers to join gangs?
The amount of violence, crime, and fear gangs create in society has only been increasing throughout the years. One of the major problems with these gangs in society is that teenagers are the main members of them. The topic I am going to do my research experiment on, and try to find more valid research on is the reasons why teenagers join gangs. When conducting my research I would want to find out the main reasons what is driving teenagers to participate and turn to gangs. There can be so many factors that pushes a teenager to rebel and go as far as relying on gangs to be there for them. This would be great research to expand on, because learning what motivates these teenagers to join gangs would increase peoples knowledge about it. Increasing peoples knowledge about it I think would decrease the number of teens joining them. Friends, family members, school teachers and many more would be able to point out the early signs, or factors in their life that might be affecting them to go down the wrong path. With more knowledge about the teenage gang situation people might be able to steer kids into getting some help, such as talking to a counselor about their struggles, or directing them into better extracurricular activities such as sports or clubs.
Method of Investigation: Based on previous literature I have read up on and studied I would have a pretty good general idea on what the main causes and answers to my research topic, however, more data and variables could never hurt in more complete research. My hypothesis would be that the teenagers family life at home, peers they hung out with, and poor relationship with school caused a lot of the motive to join a gang. So while conducting this research I would like to find more information about the gang members family life at home, such as, were they close with their parents and siblings? Did they come from a broken home? Did they suffer from a traumatic experience because of a family member? I would also like to look more into their peers and friends they associated with. Find out some answers like, did the friends they hung out with commit crimes or miniscule offenses? What were some of the activities the gang members and their friends would do while hanging out? And the final variable I would like to test and really do some in dept research about is related to the gang members schooling. Was the school they went to have a lot of gang members in it? What were the teenager's grades like? Did they even attend school on a regular basis, and if they did were they well behaved in the classroom? I believe with all of these different variables they will all show a positive correlation. For example, the more troubles the teenager is having at home with their family and school life, the more likely it would be for them to turn to the gang life style, and it would have a very strong relationship. One of the theories I would like to test out has to relate to the teenager's peers. My theory is that one of the reasons the teenager joined the gang was because they felt accepted and like they actually meant something to someone for once in their life. I believe that a lot of gang members actually have somewhat of a self esteem issue and a lot might have even been picked on by some of their peers. So they turned to a different group of friends that were willing to accept them, and protecting them, forming some kind of trust between the teenager and the friends of the gang. I would love to also find out all of this information about the gangs because I feel like society puts an economic fallacy towards every gang member and their situation out there. All teenage gang members come from different backgrounds and people should not just assume that all teenage gang delinquents are associated with the same problems, and they should not make final inferences on teenage gangs based on the data, so that is why I am very interested in getting firsthand knowledge about it. To conduct this kind of research experiment I would want the most in dept, rich information I would be able to get. And I don't believe I would get that using quantitative research. Gang life is a very serious thing for the members of the gang. A lot of them like their work and participation to be secretive and would most likely not want to share their knowledge or any information about themselves or their gang members with a researcher that just shows up to the school to take a random survey. Most likely they would not be completely honest. That's why in order for me to conduct this research the right way and to my full advantage of receiving the information I would want to get, I would use a qualitative approach. But further with the qualitative approach I would be a covert participant, meaning that for a as long as I need, and feel like I need to carry on with the study I would be part of a gang, however, the gang members would have no idea that I am a researcher observing them. I feel like this would be the best method in order to get a lot of juicy information that I want, and would not only help me out with my study, but could have an impact on future research involving the same topic. When using the qualitative covert participant method there are a lot of advantages behind it. While being a covert participant, as long as you do not reveal your identity as a researcher, the group (gang) you are observing will never know. Therefore, they will carry out with their everyday activities, and not act differently like they might if they knew a researcher was watching and taking notes on every move. With the research design I would carry out, I would go in as a covert participant because I would want to gain all the trust I possibly can, before I could casually ask them questions about their lives that would answer my previous questions and enrich my research. If the gang knew there was a researcher in their gang, not only would they most likely not act natural, they would probably just tell them to get out right away. I believe that covert participation would be the best way to do research on a teenage gang because of how hard I think it would be to get realistic information out of them, however, it is a very tricky method of research that also comes with some complications. Covert participation is extremely time consuming, especially when the researcher is willing to participate in order to gain complete trust from a gang. With gang research it is also risky because you never know what you will have to do in order to gain their acceptance into the group. A researcher obviously does not want to go through ridiculous extremes, and commit insane criminal acts that would obviously not only ruin their research plan, but the rest of their life and researching career as well. You never know what extremes gangs might go through as well. If they ever found out that the observer has been conducting research on them all this time, who knows what life threatening acts might come out of it, and how angry they might actually get. For not only lying to a group of teenagers in a gang, but also the invasion of privacy they might see it as.

Causal Validity: In order for me to establish casual explanations, I would go back and really look at the key aspects of my research design, and the major changes in attitudes, values, characteristics, and behaviors. Time order can be used in my study by comparing the different family life styles, peers and academic success from teenagers who are not in gangs, and are excelling in everything they do, as compared to the teenagers lifestyles in the gangs and who are struggling a little more in their lives. My study would be a longitudinal study, therefore, I would be able to get a lot of different views and rich information to compare, over a long period of time, and then also see if there were any changes within the period of time. My data collection throughout my time spent with the gang would be a fixed sample panel. Although I would like to be able to change my time with the gangs, and maybe go to other ones to compare my results from group to group, it would just be way too time consuming to be able to do that, so I will just be spending my time collecting data from the same individuals at multiple time points. My core purpose of my research design is to test out whether or not there is an association between a teenage gang members background and outside factors and to figure out the casual mechanisms with the gangs involvement. I would say my research that I am going to conduct is idiographic because although I would be finding what I believe to be is the major three components to why teenagers join gangs, there are so many explanations as to why they might want to, and such a large number of variables relating to the cause.

Sampling and Reliability: Because there are countless amount teenage gang members it would literally be impossible for a single researcher to reach out to all of them to find out information in regards to their casual mechanisms, therefore, I will have to do a sampling method in order to conduct my research. Although a form of sampling would be the best way to conduct my research experiment, sampling gives people the ability to make preferred generalizations by only talking to a small, however, a representative sample. The type of sampling that would be most appropriate for the research experiment I would take place in would be based on stratified random sampling. The shared element that the teenagers being studied would have in common would be that, they are associated with a gang. And then from then on it would be a random group that would be chosen. But another part of the stratified random sampling would be that the gangs members would be more or less from the same geographical area. In order to conduct this research experiment I would have to find an area that has been known for a large number of gang activity. In order to do that, I would probably have to look into previous quantitative research performed by a different researcher. When I found out that town, I would then take part in the random stratified sampling to try and find a group of teenage gangs that would be willing to take me in and accept me in the group, while also being able to provide me with valid information. My experiment also has hints of snowball sampling in it as well because of how hard it is to get in contact with willing teenage members to admit they are in a gang. That might be a downfall to my experiment, me actually finding a gang to join and have them accept me and act 100% normal around me.
Ethics in an experiment is a huge part of making sure this experiment not only does not cause harm to the people participating in the research, but especially with covert participant qualitative research, you also have to make sure the researcher (me) does not have any harm or get themselves in any situation that would get them in extreme danger. While I participate in this experiment, I must have certain morals and guidelines for myself because I do not want to be put in a situation where I am committing major crimes, or putting someone else's life into danger. I know that teenage gang members will be tricky to deal with because they are going to want me to participate in activities with them, in order for them to gain my trust with them. I do not want to blow my cover as a researcher, so I am going to have to keep my cool, and go along with as much as I feel comfortable with. Some people might look at this as being unethical because I am not being truthful with them, and telling them that I am a researcher, but these are extremes I have to go through in order to get the rich information I need in order to expand my knowledge and other peoples knowledge about the teenage gang scene. We need more qualitative researchers like this that are willing to conduct these kind of experiments because the more in dept research we have about these types of problems in our world, we expand our societies awareness, which can help prevent further initiation into gangs from teenagers.

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