Does Affirming the Self Decrease the Desire to Join a Gang?
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Young people are being lured into gang life through many factors including bad decision making and the influence of their peers. My study suggests that there are alternatives to coercive suppression through law enforcement activities and incarceration for youth who chose this way of life. Self-affirmation or the reflection on important values that affirm the self, has been shown to significantly affect attitudes and behaviour (Cohen & Sherman, 2006). To date there have been none, however, that demonstrate that affirming the self can change attitudes regarding joining gangs. This thesis will test the idea. Generally speaking the justice system defines what gangs are and how to deal with gang members. Once a young person has gone down the path of joining a gang he or she is labeled. The problem is they become entrenched in being a gang member and less likely to be rehabilitated away from this way of life after a stint in prison. It would not be reasonable to think that a study of this nature would have the capacity of diverting all youths from being potential gang members but even if a small percentage were affected it could point to an important way to intervene with youth.