Suburban Gangs

The Affluent Rebels

By Dan Korem


Library Journal ( Star Review: March 1995)

Independent investigative journalist Korem speaks from experience and research in this thoughtful work, expressing concern for the steadily rising numbers of youths from affluent homes who, like their inner-city cohorts, choose delinquent, occultic, or ideological gang-based activity as a way of life. European and American youths are joining gangs to escape the reality of life in severely dysfunctional, often abusive home situations. Lacking a family member, or substitute, to support them in crises, they turn to gang affiliation for empowerment and a masking of their pain. Korem says that some youths (affluent more than poor) do manage to leave gangs, either on their own or with help. But he lays out a strong strategy for at-risk youngsters at the neighborhood and community level. As have other, he stresses the value of an “ounce of prevention.” The young are the future. Recommended strongly for professionals, academics, and the general public.

Booklist (March 1995)

Korem, an investigative journalist, brings a peculiar expertise to his study of youth gangs: formerly a professional magician, he uses sleight of hand (and of mind) in school presentations to help kids grasp the false promises at the center of any gang’s appeal. This is a straightforward, non-sensational discussion of the causes, typology, and potential for prevention of and disengagement from youth gangs in relatively affluent communities (in Europe as well as the U.S.), which are often startled to learn they have a gang problem. In every culture, Korem notes, the kids most vulnerable to gangs live in broken, unstable, or severely dysfunctional families and have no adult “protector” on whom they can rely in a crisis. Global shifts in youth subcultures affect the relative appeal of types of gangs (delinquent, ideological, or, much less commonly, occult), but neither that subculture nor contact with inner-city gangs causes the formation of suburban gangs. Korem will enlighten many readers with his thoughtful and instructive approach to a growing and troubling social problem.

Law Enforcement Training Network (August 1995)

Gangs are no longer something we can call an under-class phenomenon. It’s a national issue. . . . The great thing about [Suburban Gangs] is that it helps us understand as a nation what causes youths to turn to these gangs. . . . It’s an excellent read