“The aim of gangs,” Jane Ritchie and James Ritchie write, “is not to wage war on society, even though one might well gain that impression from the media. The major purpose of gangs is to provide affiliation and support for their members. They are a substitute for family for individuals whose own families are unsatisfactory, unsupportive, or simply non-existent. Many gang members already have extensive police records before they join. The [-p.55] police submission to the ministerial inquiry into violence gives powerful evidence of the disastrous background factors in the lives of these multiple offenders, whose records often begin in their early teens, probably after some years of living outside parental control and supervision. Since no one cared, they may have grown up beyond moral and social constraint, and feel they owe nothing to a society that gave them nothing. The gang may be their first positive humanising social experience. We need to remember that gangs are not violent most of the time, and that the violence arises for structural reasons and in critical incidents.
The media tend to concentrate on the violent activities of some gangs or gang members as though membership is the cause of offending.” (pp.54-55)
Ref: Jane Ritchie and James Ritchie (1993) Violence in New Zealand. Huia Publishers and Daphne Brasell Associates: Wellington