Page last updated at 04:34 GMT, Friday, 8 August 2008 05:34 UK

'Lack of role models' fuels gangs

Teenagers in Burnley on their parents

A lack of parent and adult role models is driving young people into gangs, according to the Prince's Trust.

A survey published by the charity found that one in three young people in the UK say they do not think of their own parents as people they respect.

More than half of those asked said that finding a sense of identity is the key reason for joining a gang - with 9% having spent time in one.

Nearly 2,000 14 to 25-year-olds took part in the survey.

More than half of the teenagers (55%) cited friends and peers as role models and almost a quarter (22%) said young people are looking for role models in gangs.

Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince's Trust, says the research suggests that young people are creating their own "youth communities" and gangs, in search of the influences that could once have been found in traditional communities.

Hoodies in Bristol
There are tens of thousands of parents who cannot control their children and simply don't know where they are for much of the day and night
Mark Easton
BBC Home Editor

"All the threads that hold a community together - a common identity, role models, a sense of safety - were given by young people as motivations to join gangs," Ms Milburn said.

According to the survey, young people are twice as likely to turn to a peer (60%) with a problem as they are to turn to a parent (31%).

The report also says it puts the issue of knife crime and youth crime in general into context.

It found that 3% take drugs regularly and 2% carry a knife.

The issue most likely to hold young people back is low self-confidence (32%) according to the research.

This was followed by more tangible things such as lack of job opportunities (28%) and lack of training (14%).

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