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The Problem with Gang Classification
A gang can be defined as an informal group of people (three or more) either children, adolescents or youth who usually come together or meet often for the purposes of socializing, working or indulging in antisocial activities like committing crime. They have a structural alignment and a mutual relationship where each member benefits from the other. These benefits can come in many forms for example protection, power and identity. Gang classification on the other hand can be said to be the criteria that is used to identity and place these gangs into different categories which include; the Scavenger gangs, Transgressor gangs, Violent gangs (Maras), criminal gangs and the female gangs.
There is evidently a big problem in classification of gangs where the criteria that is used to identify these gangs and hence categorize them into particular groups may lack a standardized assessment protocol framework to work upon, therefore this problem will be transferred to the interventions that the government may try to put in place so as to curb and diminish this gang phenomenon. As a result the government ends up administering the wrong type of intervention since the gang was not correctly identified and classified causing a massive waste of public resources.
There are various classification systems that are used to classify these gangs including the Traditional classification system and the Standardized Gang Assessment Protocol (SGAP). Of the two, the traditional system of classification faces more problems as compared to the Standard Gang Assessment Protocol. For example it classifies gangs using only a single dimension for example ethnicity whereby gangs can be classified into black gangs, Caucasian gangs. Therefore this lack of standardization leads to uncertainty in the decisions that are made opening up room for errors.
There are theories that try to identify and explain the functions and structures of a certain gang group but this theory will fall short in trying to explain other types of gangs thus will not be applicable in classifying them. The confusion that arises from this causes the law practitioners to the pay less attention to conducting more research in regard to gangs. It is therefore advisable to use classification systems that apply more dimensions hence reducing the chances of errors and help in curbing the problem in classification.