In Their Own Voices. . .

Students’ perceptions of the role schools and teachers play in why they join gangs should be considered. In a study by Lee (1999 ), the following excerpt appears:

“Interestingly, students felt that schools did little to prevent their gang involvement and, at times, only exacerbated the sense of disrespect that contributed to their attraction to gangs in the first place.

One of the five student researchers, Roberto, explained that gang members were categorically considered failures or “bad” students by teachers and counselors at Emerson. When students internalized these low images, Roberto believed, their esteem dropped even lower and, consequently, pushed them further into gang involvement.

This phenomenon was solidified when students themselves began to feel a sense of hopelessness. One Vietnamese American male noted that by his freshman year, he believed that his gang fighting, criminal record, and low grades had already made it impossible for him to go to college. Students believed that adults, who typically perceived gang members as trouble makers unwilling and incapable of learning, failed to make significant attempts to include these students in class activities. Although interviewees claimed that Emerson, in comparison to other high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, experienced minimal gang activity, they still believed that the school did little to address gang issues, including working with gang members to stay in school, helping students to deal with peer pressure, and preventing other students from joining gangs.”


Downloaded from at UNIV OF SOUTH FLORIDA on March 30, 2009

Vicki Caruana

Vicki Caruana


One response to “In Their Own Voices. . .

  1. Listening to the voices of our students is absolutely necessary if we seek to understand the real problems in education and if we expect to be successful in doing something about it.

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