Contrary to the popular view of gang members as thoughtless thugs, Monti describes the difficult choices they make and explores the youngsters′ ambivalence toward dealing in illegal narcotics and taking up arms against neighbors and their fellow students. Youngsters use gangs to express their disdain for an adult world that provides them with few effective ways to become a conventional person and, at the same time, as a means to negotiate an entrance into that very world.
Surburban Gnags are seen to be different from innercity gangs in some important ways. What young persons find in their families, neighbourhoods, and schools clearly has an impact on the making and unmaking of gang members. Existing theories and intervention strategies intended to suppress gangs or lure youngsters from gangs are found to be ineffective. Far more important, Monti argues, are explanations of gang behaviour that focus on the power of conventional institutions to make human beings that move from gangs into the larger world as the youngsters grow older. An ambitious plan to rebuild a middle–class population of residents and business owners in cities is advanced as a way to help young persons make their way into the conventional adult world that has heretofore been denied.
Foreword by Edwin J. Delattre vii
1 Introduction 1
2 Gangs in the World of Children 21
3 Coming of Age 51
4 Going Along with the Program 96
5 Learning to Ride a Bicycle 130