Gangs have direct effects on a community, such as increased levels of crime, violence and murder. Gangs also have long-term or delayed implications in that gang members are more likely to drop out of school, struggle with unemployment, abuse drugs and alcohol or wind up in jail. These factors not only harm the gang members, but they force taxpayers to contribute to welfare and community-assistance programs.
Common motives for youth to join gangs include finding a place to belong and sharing in mutual desires for safety from family problems or life challenges. Collectively, the feelings and attitudes among gang members compel them to act violently, often conflicting with rival gangs. This violence leads to injury and death of not only members but also of bystanders in the community. High gang activity also causes fear among community members, deters business activity and impedes home-value appreciation. Communities also have to pay for higher levels of law enforcement when gangs are prominent.
Drug abuse, teen pregnancy, incarceration and unemployment all bring costs to communities. Populations of able-bodied, educated workers are diminished due to negative results of gangs. Drugs and teen pregnancy put pressure on communities to offer medical facilities and rehab programs. Jails are also costly to build, maintain and operate.