Inside the dark world of the gang initiation ceremonies

A youth worker writes

In order to be initiated into a gang, a boy with whom I worked was given a choice: eat dog faeces or rob and stab another boy in the leg. The boy opted for the former.

This resulted in serious illness and hospitalisation. He gained membership but he has little scope for promotion within the gang because he failed to demonstrate capacity to be ruthless to the "Olders".

The lure of the gang is magnetic for vulnerable inner-city teenagers, offering a sense of belonging and materialistic gains that would otherwise be out of reach.

The hierarchy is loosely divided into two levels, "Youngers" and "Olders". The lengths to which a potential new member is prepared to go to join the gang highlights their potential to climb the hierarchy.

While there is not necessarily direct pressure from the gang to join, opting out has consequences. With no gang affiliation, you lack the supposed protection the gang offers and may be perceived as untrustworthy. Experimenting with the idea of joining the gang and then deciding against joining is less favourable. You are then likely to be victimised by them.

Some London gangs affiliate themselves with the Bloods and the Crips of the United States .

Urban music plays a critical role. While there are artists in the mainstream preaching a positive message, local underground artists offer an alternative. Their message is often conflicted, proudly representing the gang and glamourising the criminality and violence, while accepting that ultimately there will be negative consequences to leading such a life.

I recall taking one boy to a supermarket to get some lunch. He began to rifle through what was on offer at the self-service salad cart with his hands, sampling everything. I told him that he couldn't do that, and he replied "Why? Who's going to stop me?"

The writer is a youth worker and mentor working in North London

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever