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Such a label may also limit a youth's educational or employment opportunities, encouraging him to remain in the gang when he is actually looking for a way out.
I interviewed several gang members who felt they had to leave their hometown to escape from the gangs they had joined.
He had left home, friends, school, and a physical environment he knew well. After a brief period of time, he moved back to Denver.
Once there he tried to stay in high school but got involved with his old gang associates, began drinking and using other drugs, dropped out of school, began selling drugs again and, as he told me, "hit rock bottom." He was eventually arrested and the police impounded his car.
That youth may be forced to continue gang associations to protect himself from rival gangs.