It is well known that street gangs flourish in low-income African-American ghettos and Mexican barrios. There have been a moderate number of studies surrounding the reasons why youth join gangs. However, few have emphasized the life path of gang members beginning from age 7 years through adolescence and what Erickson (1950) identified as industry versus inferiority and identity versus role confusion stages of psychosocial development. This paper contributes to the literature on gang recruitment and socialization by introducing the life path of gang members, providing a rationale as to why certain boys join gangs, and shows how developmental patterns are consistent with DSM-IV-TR categorical criteria of oppositional defiance disorder, conduct disorder, and antisocial disorder patterns of delinquent youth.
Key words: Peer group, intimidation, Gangs, young adults, society.