18 with a bullet is a documentary film that portrays the happenings within El Salvador, Central America where rival gangs "18" and "MS" are at war with each other for control of the city. In a more extensive section of the documentary, it concentrates on the life of gang members of 18 gang (which began as the 18th Street gang in Los Angeles) teenage recruits that are taking up fights in the name of controlling the city. Majorly, the members of the gang are young criminals who are deported to their home country. The documentary film begins with the sight of four young women knocking a fellow young woman and kicking her hard for a predetermined number of counts (18) as she lies on the ground as part of an initiation into becoming a member of the gang. The leader of the pack in the district is a 16year old boy (Charlie). Later on in the film, Male gang member are seen punishing defaulters after Charlie calls for a meeting and the victims are kicked brutally to the count of 18 (Gang Documentary El Salvador, 2016). As the film proceeds, it depicts on the extents through which the 18 gang members go to sustain their lives (such as selling weed and getting money from bus drivers). However, main events revolve around Charlie (the leader of the gangs) and two 17-year-old mates along with frequent deaths associated with a rivalry between the two groups (18 and MS).
According to Siegel and Welsh (2016), the Choice theory is among the theories explaining the issue about juvenile delinquency. Within the concepts of choice theory, it implies that juvenile offenders are rational individuals that make decisions to involve in antisocial behaviors because of one reason or the other that they believe is of significant help to them. Moreover, choice theory settles that a juvenile will engage in criminal and delinquent activities while at the same time aware of the consequences. In most of the cases, the individual weighs the options of their decision by looking at the benefits and the effects as well. The moment they perceive that the benefits are higher than the loss, they make a rational choice of involving in delinquent behaviors (Siegel & Welsh, 2016, 59).
The choice theory strives to maintain that delinquency is rational and often prevented through the intervention of punishment that is sufficiently severe. Although delinquency is treated with more leniency than adult crimes because the law assumes that juveniles are less responsible for their actions and behavior, the choice theory delivers more details on the involvement of youths in unwarranted behavior. However, with the use of the choice theory, one of the juveniles in the (18 With A Bullet) documentary became delinquent since we hear him giving his story. For instance, we apprehend the leader of the district saying, "I am proud of having gained the respect of the tribe... because I do things... things that someone my age should not be doing." With this, it explains the involvement of rational thinking with this particular individual and his participation in criminal activities (Gang Documentary El Salvador, 2016).
In the fourth chapter of the textbook, (Siegel & Welsh,2016, 105) it delivers a proper interaction on the involvement of the cultural deviance theory with the documentary film. The cultural deviance theory holds that the cases of juvenile delinquency are as a result of the desire by the youths to conform to cultures especially in the lower-class neighborhood that conflicts with those of more substantial and developed societies. Within the theory, it offers that, specific values within the community may differ to the personal ambitions especially about the conventional values like honesty. The cultural deviance theory connects juvenile delinquency activities to the creation of independent subcultures that defy the mainstream culture (Siegel & Welsh, 2016, 105). Moreover, cultural deviance theory may comprise of occurrence where the youths that share lower-class values admire the cultural practices of drug dealing, pimp, and criminals; they may have difficulties in conforming to the middle-class values meant to impress figures like employers and teachers. It results in culture conflict which now leads to the engagement of the adolescents in crimes (Siegel & Welsh, 2016, 105).
An excellent example of the cultural deviance theory within the documentary involves the events where the members of 18 gang are selling weed to raise money. However, using the cultural deviance theory, one of the boys became delinquent, for example, we hear the boy saying that the gang is family to him and he would die for the gang. At some point, he says, "I love my gang more than my mother... when my I needed my mother, she was not there, but when I needed the gang, it was there" (Gang Documentary El Salvador, 2016). With such intuition induced from the culture, this contributed to making the boy delinquent. The deviant values within the gang culture involve the love and admiration of violence which is perfectly portrayed through the activities of the youths of gang 18. The gang culture is majorly based on power which on the other hand delivers more significant damage to the society in general.
Similarly, life course theory is visible within the details of the documentary. Life course theory represents a focus that changes in the behavior of an individual as people go through the path of life and how the change and development affect delinquency and crime, especially in the juveniles. Additionally, the theory suggests that criminal actions and behaviors are a dynamic process that is influenced by personal characteristics along with other social experiences that deliver a dramatic change in life (Siegel & Welsh, 2016, 128-130). The life courses theory attempts to explain the concepts through which individuals have multiple traits (such as economic, psychological, and social). It also suggests that people change as life continues either by a family influence or peer behavior influence. However, since the development process requires time, positive life experience may cause the youth to desist from delinquency while a negative experience pushes the children deeper into delinquency.
In most the cases, continuity of delinquency is predicted by past criminality which settles the issue concerning the percentage of adolescent remaining to continue with the crime and delinquency (Siegel & Welsh, 2016, 128-130). For example, the theory is visible through characters such as (Slappy) in the documentary film. Following his juvenile life, he killed men who had children of their own, but now since he has a wife and children, he feels sorry for doing that. Although some of them change positively into right behaviors, most of them grow more in-depth into the gang life. One of the juvenile delinquents is asked why he kills and he says, "it is for the cause... I would die for the cause... and my heart will remain for the gang" (Gang Documentary El Salvador, 2016).
To sum everything up, I believe the choice theory best explains the causes of juvenile delinquency. The choice theory delivers that most of these youths have fantasies of riches and may enjoy the fun of criminal acts as well as the willingness to do what they have to do; to get what they want. In most of the juveniles, they decide to indulge in the crimes. For example, some of them are very happy and hopeful that they can go on a mission and kill rival gang. Through such happenings, it explains the validity of the theory. With other approaches (such as cultural deviance theory and life course theory) they fail to provide the actual contributions to the reasons as to why the juveniles in the documentary became delinquent (Gang Documentary El Salvador, 2016).
"Gang Documentary El Salvador." 2016. Retrieved https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvGzyK5ho9g
Siegel, Larry J., and Brandon C. Welsh. Juvenile delinquency: The core. Nelson Education, 2016.pp 58-155
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