Juvenile Delinquency

UNITED STATES

Juvenile delinquency is a product of sickness in society. It is largely an urban phenomenon and its most fertile breeding place is in the slums of the great cities. There the effects of inadequate or none-existent home life are aggravated by poverty, ignorance, filth.

From the dank darkness of tenements the only escape for city boys and girls is the street — the street which despite its filth provides the only place where they can gather, run around and race off their youthful energy. But the street also presents a danger. There the city boy all too often finds “freedom’’ and “security’’ in gang life.

Most gangs have 20 to 30 members ranging in age from 11 to 17. Most have their own name, colors and insignia which are often emblazoned on made-to-order jackets. Hang-outs are street corners and candy stores. In winter, deserted buildings provide meeting places.

Wartare between rival gangs with stylized, formal tactics is common. Usually the most vicious of these gangs exist in the borderline districts of a big city, most conspiciously between white and Negro communities. There racial antagonisms are reflected in the youth. Say the members: ‘‘You gotta have tough gangs where we hang out. They give a guy protection. It’s just smarter for your health to belong.’’

Thus juvenile delinquency sweeps whole neighborhoods in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and other big cities.