In The Hague, Delft and Zoetermeer youth gangs are inspired by American gangs, like the Crips and the Bloods. By wearing certain types of clothing or getting certain tattoos, they show their affiliation with these groups. These gangs defend their neighbourhoods; sometimes, this involves stabbings or other violence. Robby Roks, Associate Professor of Criminology at Erasmus School of Law, explains these and other problems concerning youth gangs to Omroep West.
Roks conducted research into the Crips branch in The Hague. He tried to gain access to this private group: “I started slowly. First, I mainly visited their clubhouse in the Schipperskwartier, their headquarters. After that, I started hanging out with them more and more. I did not immediately start asking things I had to know for my research. We just talked about music and had a good laugh.”
It was often unclear what things were real and what things were not during the research. Roks: “The media has an intense view of these youth gangs. Not every gang member is dangerous. It is important to the gang to defend their neighbourhood and their reputation. Photo’s of weapons and money improve their status, for example.”
Temporary gang members
The link between youth gangs and crime is often quickly made by the media. According to the criminologist of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, there certainly are members that commit crimes: “This can be drug crimes or online scamming. Violent crimes with knives are also common.” Tackling these youth gangs and preventing youth from choosing a life of crime is difficult to do. Roks does, however, see that not all youngsters remain a permanent part of a gang: “in my research into the Crips, I also experienced cases of youngsters that started doing something completely different in their twenties. If boys start young in a gang, it is harder, but it is not impossible to get out.”