A Qualitative Analysis of the Rise of Gangs and Youth Genocide, with a Focus on New York City, Using the Social Learning and Social Contract Theories

Kandice Purdy


Before being removed from their countries, brought to America, enslaved and stripped of their culture, the enslaved Africans were a people of rich culture centered on family values and community. Lack of family structure within the household and unity within the community has caused children and adolescents to seek values formerly found within their homes, such as loyalty and support, elsewhere. Gangs are a common outlet for adolescents because, despite the negative connotation associated with the term, gangs often represent loyalty, support, family and the opportunity to gain respect. Unfortunately, in order to prove their loyalty to the gang and earn respect or “rank” within the group, gang members are often involved in illegal activities and violence. The rise of gangs in urban communities throughout the country has led to a phenomenon of youth genocide. There is now what is referred to as the new “KKK”—i.e. Kids Killing Kids, which has the potential to be far more detrimental to the African American community than the Ku Klux Klan ever was. Utilizing the Social Learning Theory, this paper hypothesizes that the strengthening of strong family structure and support within the Black community will reduce gang membership and activity. Although strengthening community values will lower the number of gangs within the community, it will not entirely eliminate gangs as, unfortunately, some will naturally resist progress. Therefore, legislative measures will need to be taken to enforce harsher punishments on those involved in gang-related activity to deter individuals from participation. Using the Social Contract theory, this paper further hypothesizes that instituting stricter laws for illegal hand guns would deter individuals from carrying handguns, thereby ultimately lowering the murder rate. Qualitative data collected from primary and secondary sources by employing three expert interviews and the document analysis technique were employed to test the hypotheses. The findings delineated from the systematic analysis suggest that both hypotheses are valid.


African American Community; Youth Genocide; Gangs; Social Learning Theory

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

The Proceedings is produced as a service of UNC Asheville.