Through the rigorous impairments that are placed upon poor inner-city communities, the most pressing factors are the inner-violence and constant aggression. By allowing such displacement to happen within the inner cities, their habits are eventually spread throughout nearing regions causing residential areas to partake in this type of culture. “Code of the Street” written by Elijah Anderson, has given much emphasis on the exceeding problems that young adults and children are facing through their years of early development within poor, forgotten communities. Anderson refers street culture as a form of law followed by and respected by everyone who lives within these communities; it is called a code of the streets.
This code is a form of rules that are established for allowing deviant behavior and offers a sense of ranking. Even though these communities do part-take in this code, there still are decent families living within the area that oppose the values of the code. The rules have been established and are enforced mainly by the streets; everybody understands what will occur if the rules are violated. Knowledge of the code is thus largely expected; it is necessary for operating in public. Realistically, despite being opposed to such a code, decent families often do encourage members to understand the rules and make use of certain rules if necessary. This is done solely to minimize the amount of harm that could be done to decent families. The code of the street reflects many reasons and situation for why young people join gangs. Though motives for joining gangs may vary, there are some mutual motives that do connect towards a child’s poor living situations.
Within reviewing the disadvantages that families in such troublesome environments face, the idea of family has been shifted and divided into to two factors. Families are labeled as “decent” and “street”. Decent families apply more effort in attempting to implement manners that are considered morally correct. Decent parents tend to be strict in their practice of encouraging children to respect authority and walk a straight moral line. The parents understand the amount of sacrifice that is needed for implementing these behaviors in a community where violence is used as a stepping stone on determining ones’ rank.
In opposition to decent family morals, street parents display a lack of consideration for others and lack the physical and emotional characteristics necessary for raising young children in such living situations. This type of family is more invested in the values of the code of the street. By the street parents being more accepting of such misbehavior, they gradually accept their children into this type of lifestyle. This allows the code of the street to consistently effect the lives of each new generation entering these poor-inner communities. Brotherhood is a main reason as to why young adults choose to join gangs. The majority of members within a gang believe that the gang is an extension of family. The children that are neglected within their street families have no actual connection with anyone and are set off to fend for themselves. By allowing a child to set out into such a dangerous world alone, they will quickly turn to any possible source that will guarantee them companionship, protection and profit.
With new generations getting involved with the deviant behaviors on the streets before even being admitted into school. On the streets, children have already made friends that become their source of social bonds. If the other children are also accepting of the street code they are in more danger of becoming part of some type of violence or trouble. By allowing young children to partake within the code of the street, by the time they arrive to school, each child will be using any type of life experience such as knowledge and forms of observation to implement at school. With the code being well known and expressed constantly, children will implement such behavior on school grounds and may receive penalties for doing so. In addition to this type of behavior, older students who once were in the shoes of the younger generation had also implemented the code to their daily life style. Younger students will witness how the older generations express themselves and will try to imply that knowledge to their lifestyle.
By the time these children enter their teenage year and with boys in particular’ they are trying to understand what it means to be considered a man. The code plays a substantial part in giving teenagers an idea of what it means to be a man. The code of the street revolves solely around ones’ self. It infers that manhood is based upon respect and within the street your reputation, acknowledgement from others and the amount of fear that one has implied on their peers all give rise to where your rank would be. The type of acknowledgement that members living within these poor societies are looking for are similar as gang members who are trying to either represent themselves or gain ranking within their group. In regards to gaining reputation or ranking on the streets, gangs member and people who are willing to join gangs also fall into the category of obtaining some form of identity and recognition. Being apart of a gang allows members to achieve some level of status that would not be so easily achieved outside of the gang. With status being such an importance on the street, the implementation of intimidation towards others is also implied; allowing members to gain a sense of dominance over others within their community. Quite naturally, members of the community or of the gangs must implement some type of violence to gain reputation and in doing so cause an uproar in violent acts happening within their communities.
Regarding building reputations through violence and increasing the amount of disorganization and fear within the cities. These factors lead to communities that had the possibility of developing into a more socially acceptable and genuinely better for raising young adults into war zones that minimize any chance of children growing up to become successful contributors to society. Young adults are causing havoc by using/selling drugs and contributing to violence instead of working or receiving an education since those matters are not as socially acceptable in these poor-communities. Anderson recognizes that with the lack of education rising in these communities the amount of drugs and crime begin to rise. Children are set up in situations where chances of leaving such a society and becoming the son/daughter that there parents wanted them to be are extremely low. This forces kids to go into the streets and begin to develop traits through the code. Drug related problems, muggings, burglaries, and car jackings, all of which may leave their victims or innocent passersby’s dead, are now common disasters within these societies. If cities would give kids a proper education then there would be less drugs, violence and crime going on through out these cities. By atleast trying to remove social structures like the codes would reduce the pressure that children face when leaving their homes.
After reviewing the establishment of the code within these poor communities, mating becomes a large factor within these regions. These citizens have been given insight on sex by immediate peers, family and others. Though this may seem as a good way of being informed on such a matter, it is not. Their peers, family members, and anyone who has taken part within this person’s life could have been influenced by the code of the street, which may imply that there knowledge on the topic has been altered for the worst. Within this section of the novel it explains how new generations are born into awful living situations. Just as the perception of violence for the members of the poor inner society have been altered, so has their views on pregnancies. Many young women believe that pregnancy at a young age has much to offer, but in reality only minimizes the amount of opportunity women have since they must nurture the child for nine months within themselves and then try and raise the child while raising themselves. Girls visualize a fantasy in which they see themselves baring children and that being the necessary factor towards living a happy life. This happens because of absence from a strong well held up family being provided during their journey towards becoming young adults. Another reason for wanting a child is because the women within these communities hold social clubs or peer groups to give social support for having a child and to obtain accessories that would make the child seem “cool”. Within the inner city it is an accessory to have a baby and to have the coolest items for their child, this is an example of having poor perception on what actually is considered important.
In relation towards young adults having children, the topic of a “decent daddy’ and a “street daddy” rises. The decent fatherly figure is someone well respected within their neighborhood and/or household. This man respects his wife and provides for his children. Within the poor inner cities, there are not many of these type of men casually walking around. The majority of men within the rural cities are more interested within either their self-benefit, money, or the sake of the code. By having fathers who choose to not prioritize the responsibility of taking care of the child they brought into such miserable living conditions as their main concern only causes the mothers to feel devastated and allows for the cycle of violence, neglect, and mischief to reoccur.
Elijah Anderson’s insight within “Code of the Street”, draws on wide field research, Anderson observed that the misbehavior of poor lower-class youth members were influenced by a code of rules that was implemented through the streets and only because citizens were acting in accordance to these rules. After reviewing Anderson’s work, I came to an understanding that the rules were set upon a belief that it is necessary for citizens to show minimal to no signs of weakness, or else it would set that person as a likely target in future transgressions. I feel that this book was very repetitive though. The majority of the information that was found within this novel could easily be studied within any book in relation to criminal justice or towards gangs. Despite the novel giving basic information on the lives of young adults within poor-inner cities, the information was well written and gave very good explanations and references to ensure the reader would understand certain situations and why implications may have been made.