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Official: Yob gangs must now be called "groups"!!


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Why this gang of yobs must now be called a 'group'


By STEVE DOUGHTY - More by this author » Last updated at 11:12am on 23rd May 2007 commentIconSm.gif Comments (47)

GangDM2205_228x348.jpgWatch your language: Teenagers resent the word 'gang'. Posed by models



Anyone who has been a victim of their contempt for the law or menacing behaviour might find it a little difficult to swallow.


But on the orders of a government agency, gangs of teenage criminals should no longer be called "gangs" because it might offend them.


Instead they should be referred to as "groups" and their crimes described as "group-related".

The instruction comes from the Youth Justice Board, which organises probation, training and detention for under 18s.


It echoes the decision by the Metropolitan Police three years ago to drop the phrase "gang rape" and replace it with "group rape".

Officers reasoned then that the word gang can wrongly suggest clearly defined membership.


The YJB sets out its case in a 200-page report on "gangs" and how teenagers are drawn into them.

It states: "Many young people interviewed for this study resented the way in which the term had come to be used to describe any group of young people involved in anti-social behaviour.

They felt adults attached the label to them simply on the basis that they were young and met in a group, assuming that crime was their main purpose for meeting.


"In fact, the label conjured up an image with which they might not want to be associated, even where they were involved in offending - not least because in some cases they knew from their own local experience what real gangs were and several of the young women in particular had suffered at their hands."


The report said that some youngsters could find the idea of a gang seductive because of crime films and TV programmes and black "gangsta" music.

It added: "There has been a noticeable trend toward referring to groups of young people indiscriminately as gangs.


"This is not appropriate and it could exacerbate the extent and seriousness of group-related offending or create problems where none previously existed.


"Juvenile gangs do exist in some urban areas, but most young people involved in group offending do not belong to gangs - even if others label them in this way."


Examining the broader issues behind youth crime, the agency said that chaotic family lives and the lack of role models were frequently to blame.


It found that youngsters drawn into gangs overwhelmingly come from family backgrounds characterised by disruption, conflict and single parenthood.


Young men follow brothers or more distant adult relatives into crime as they look for someone to emulate.


For many from the worst backgrounds, a gang provides a home life better than their "chaotic and unstable" families, it added.

The findings are further evidence linking broken family life with crime.

Children of single parents are far more likely to do badly at school and drift towards vandalism and crime. In particular, boys who grow up without fathers are at risk of falling into criminal behaviour.


The report said: "Teenagers could gravitate toward gangs and group violence as a result of poor family relationships, exclusion from school, absence of positive role models and a lack of youth facilities."

It found that among 25 girl gang members interviewed, only two lived with both parents.


The Oxford English Dictionary says a gang is "any band or company of persons who go about together or act in concert (chiefly in a bad or deprecatory sense, or associated with criminal societies)".

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