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Inside The Life of a Maniac


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Today, gangs are more violent, more organized, and more widespread than ever before. Although many don’t realize it, they affect the lives of a majority of students. If it’s not the student directly, it’s a family member, a friend, or simply someone you see in a class or hall. There are ways to dress, to talk, and to walk that can classify you as being part of a gang, but what is the truth behind the motives of these teens? According to authorities and gang observers, reasons why people chose to enter a gang are the need to belong, to make money, for protection, for excitement, and to acquire status.
It is one thing is to observe and analyze the gang situation, but a whole different story coming directly from a gang member. An anonymous student, who will be referred to as Jose in this article, forms part of the gang Maniac, “Turning into a Maniac was something that I had to do for myself,” he said, “and now it’s my obligation”
If the truth is that these teens feel the need to be independent and don’t want to follow the norms, it seems ironic that they minimize themselves to be under the control of a boss that has immense power over them. “…its not like most people think. I do follow norms, rules, but they just happen to be different than the average person,” Jose said, “he [the gang leader] tells me what to do. I don’t ask questions, I just do it. Sometimes there are risks, but he knows better. He knows how things work.” Jose thinks that this is just a different way of life, and summarizes that other gang members think of it the same way.
Jose reveals that there are gangs made specifically to rebel against society and authorities and believes those are the gangs that are committing murder, rape, and other serious crimes. According to Jose there is another side to gangs, the side that is often forgotten. “When people think of gangs they just see the flashing of gang symbols, or the ink we got on our arm. It’s not always about that,” he said.
Like most gang members, Jose goes to school, participates with his family, and for the most part lives a normal life. “I’m not a criminal, being in a gang is like being with a group of friends. Just like people hang out with whom they can relate, or communicate with,” Jose explained. “Another way to look at it is like a job. You have responsibilities, you have to be at a certain place at a certain time, and just like different jobs require different things, same with gangs.” He laughs as he adds, “We’re not out to break the law, it just happens sometimes”
As Jose explains, there are so many unimaginable things that he must consider when living a life under constant watch. “There are places that you can’t have your hat tilted a certain way, you can’t wear certain colors, or something as simple as having a certain pant leg raised can get you in trouble.”
The most important thing to him is the fact that it is not just the gang member that has to live a life of aggression and violence. “There are times that I have to think it over twice, my parents, my little sister… man, I can take care of myself, but hell if they go after them…” He paused and looked down, “I don’t know, it would by my fault.” He explains that enemies are relentless and that they strike a person where it hurts the most.
Most people feel distant from the problem. Jose believes that there may be reason for concern. “Carpentersville is ghetto. There’s no denying that. The way of living, it’s just set for gangbanging. But its everywhere, sometimes it’s just not as evident.” Jose said, “There is more going on there than people would think.” This brings up the problems with authorities. Authorities have difficulty controlling problems since they cannot identify gang members, or even understand them.

Lately the presence of gangs has become undermined, but the numbers are astonishing. Nationally, there are more than 24,500 youth gangs with more than 772,500 members. It’s these gang members that pose one of the greatest threats to the security of Americans. With the growth of these numbers, the dream of living in a gang-free environment becomes more and more distant.



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