In Colombia a revolutionary new idea is being used to tackle gang culture: hip hop music …


Young people gather at a community centre to express their opinions about social injustice and peace, using hip hop. Although this type of music, particularly in Central America, has been associated with encouraging gang culture and making it more appealing for the younger generation, the police have begun to differentiate between ‘gang-associated hip hop’ and other types that simply express the emotions through music.

By civil society working with local authorities, young vulnerable people are provided with an artistic outlet to express their frustrations in a healthy manner. This was reported by Angelika Albaladejo on the InSight Crime website.

Much like in Central America, R&B and rap have been associated with increasing the appeal of gang violence, but music is a universal medium that can also bring people together. Young people especially will be more willing to engage with an artistic activity that they understand.

This method could also be applied in the UK. Many charities already provide grassroot support for young people who need a safe space to express themselves by offering pursuits such as after-school activities. However, if charities began using popular music such as R&B and rap in areas with high levels of gang violence, people could then make use of an artistic form with which they are familiar to vent their emotions.

Case studies in Central America have demonstrated that these methods are effective in reducing gang violence and also help law enforcement gain trust in local communities. This may prove effective in the UK. Statistics have shown violent crimes, particularly those involving guns and knives, has increased dramatically in the UK as gang members are becoming more aggressive in their attempt to increase territory. In the UK the number of violent crimes has increased by 27 per cent from 2015.

If there remains a constructive way to stop young people from joining gangs, then it should be implemented by communities that have high levels of gang violence.

Research has shown that providing support to gang members who have been injured by gang violence, reduces their chances of being violent in the future. Therefore, more effort is needed from local authorities to work with charities; as prevention is more effective than attempting to rehabilitate someone who has committed a violent crime.

If using popular music helps young people avoid gangs, then this artistic form should be implemented and encouraged by local authorities.

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