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Early Precursors of Gang Membership: A Study of Seattle Youth

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2001
6 pages
Publication Series
This bulletin presents results of Seattle’s Social Development Project, which examines the question of why young children and teenagers decide to join gangs.
This study concluded that there was no single overriding factor that explains gang membership. In fact there were multiple risk factors that influence membership as well as duration of membership. Some of these factors included environment, such as violent neighborhoods, dysfunctional family relationships, peer pressures, and individual problem behaviors. The more of these risk factors that are present the higher the odds that the child or teenager will join a gang. It was also determined that those who were most maladjusted socially and behaviorally in childhood were more likely to join gangs later in life. According to the researcher, one way to prevent gang membership is through the process of early intervention. This means that prevention programs should target fourteen-year-olds since they are at the most vulnerable age. The study concludes that in order to curb gang membership, prevention programs should use a comprehensive approach to address multiple influences rather than focussing on one particular area. Figures, references

Date Published: December 1, 2001