University of Washington study: Gang membership effects linger after leaving a gang

25 Mar

Among the statistics from the National Gang Center are:

9. Are today’s gangs different from gangs in the past?
One of the major differences between modern-day gangs and gangs of the past is their greater use of firearms. Modern-day street gangs recruit youths who possess firearms, and gang involvement promotes the use of them (Lizotte et al., 2000; Sheley and Wright, 1995). In a Rochester, New York, study, the rate of gun carrying was about ten times higher for gang members than it was for nongang juvenile offenders (Thornberry et al., 2003). Gang members who owned and/or carried guns also committed about ten times more violent crimes than one would expect from their numbers in the sample population. In the NYGS, jurisdictions experiencing higher levels of gang violence—evidenced by reports of multiple gang-related homicides over survey years—were significantly more likely than those experiencing no gang homicides to report that firearms were “used often” by gang members in assault crimes (47 percent vs. 4 percent of the jurisdictions, respectively) (Egley et al., 2006).
The growth of prison gangs is another noted difference between the gangs of the past and the current era. Although gangs were first reported in state prisons in the 1950s (Fleisher, 2006), the growth of prison gangs is a fairly recent development—over the past couple of decades. Yet we have only “rudimentary knowledge of prison gangs as social groups operating inside prisons and of the interplay between street gangs and prison gangs” (Fleisher and Decker, 2001, p. 2). The most frequently identified prison gangs (which prison officials and others prefer to call “security threat groups”) in both prison and jail settings included the Crips, Bloods, Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings, and Aryan Brotherhood. The Mexican Mafia, La Nuestra Familia, the Black Guerilla Family, and the Texas Syndicate have also been identified as dominant prison gangs (National Alliance of Gang Investigators, 2005, p. 6).
10. What proportion of adolescents join gangs?
In the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a nationally representative sample of 9,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 16, 8 percent had belonged to a gang by age 17, (Snyder and Sickmund, 2006, p. 70). However, only 3 percent indicated that they were gang members in the first survey year, 1997, when the sample averaged 14 years of age (Bjerregaard, Forthcoming, p. 15).
Of course, the proportion of youth who join a gang is higher in gang-problem cities. For example, a survey of nearly 6,000 eighth graders conducted in 11 cities known to be gang-problem localities found that 11 percent were currently gang members (17 percent said they had belonged to a gang at some point in their young lives) (Esbensen and Deschenes, 1998). It should also be noted that the prevalence of gang membership varies by locality and is typically higher in areas with longer-standing gang problems. Thus, gang membership is yet higher among representative samples of high-risk youth in large cities, ranging from 14 percent to 30 percent in Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; and Rochester, New York (Thornberry, 1998; Thornberry et al., 2004). Additionally, while larger cities primarily report a larger percentage of adult-aged gang members, other areas such as smaller cities and rural counties predominately report juvenile-aged gang members (National Youth Gang Center, 2009, see Age of Gang Members and Age of Gang Members by Area Type).
11. What is the racial and ethnic composition of gangs?
In the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (see FAQ No. 10), racial ethnic differences in the proportion who joined gangs was not as large as previous research had suggested. About 12 percent of Hispanic and black youth, respectively, reported having joined a gang by age 17, versus 7 percent of white youth (Snyder and Sickmund, 2006, p. 70).
According to law enforcement agencies in the 2007 NYGS, nearly half (49 percent) of all documented gang members are Hispanic/Latino, 35 percent are African American/black, and 9 percent are Caucasian/white (National Youth Gang Center, 2009, see Race/Ethnicity of Gang Members). However, the racial composition of gangs varies considerably by locality. For example, prevalence rates of white gang membership are lowest in larger cities (8 percent) but significantly higher in other area types, including rural counties (17 percent), where the rate is more than twice as high (National Youth Gang Center, 2009, see Race/Ethnicity of Gang Members by Area Type). In short, the demographic composition of gangs is an extension of the social and economic characteristics of the larger community.
12. Is female gang involvement increasing?
In the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (see FAQ No. 10), male versus female differences in the proportion who joined gangs was not as large as previous research had suggested. The male-to-female ratio in this national sample was approximately 2:1 (11 percent of males versus 6 percent of females) (Snyder and Sickmund, 2006, p. 70). Also, in a 15-city purposive sample, almost equal proportions of boys (8.8 percent) and girls (7.8 percent) self-reported gang membership (Esbensen et al., 2008). By comparison, while law enforcement agencies report widespread documentation of gangs with female members (National Youth Gang Center, 2009, see Gangs With Female Members), proportionally few of the gang members documented by law enforcement are female (National Youth Gang Center, 2009, see Gender of Gang Members).
Concerns of gang membership among girls have received increased scholarly attention (Moore and Hagedorn, 2001). During early adolescence, roughly one-third of all gang members are female (Esbensen and Deschenes, 1998; Esbensen and Huizinga, 1993; Esbensen and Winfree, 1998; Gottfredson and Gottfredson, 2001; Thornberry et al., 2003), but studies show that females leave gangs at an earlier age than males (Gottfredson and Gottfredson, 2001; Thornberry et al., 2003). Gender-mixed gangs are also more commonly reported now than in the past. Furthermore, emerging research has also documented that the gender composition of a gang is importantly associated with gang delinquency rates. In one study, females in all- or majority-female gangs exhibited the lowest delinquency rates, and males and females in majority-male gangs exhibited the highest delinquency rates (including higher rates than males in all-male gangs) (Peterson et al., 2001).
13. What proportion of serious and violent crime is attributable to gang members?
Because of the commonly known and widespread limitations of officially recorded data on gang crime (see FAQ No. 5), other data sources are typically used to explore this issue. Studies of large urban samples show that gang members are responsible for a large proportion of all violent offenses committed during the adolescent years. Rochester gang members (30 percent of the sample) self-reported committing 68 percent of all adolescent violent offenses; in Seattle, gang members (15 percent of the sample) self-reported committing 85 percent of adolescent robberies; and in Denver, gang members (14 percent of the sample) self-reported committing 79 percent of all serious violent adolescent offenses (Thornberry, 1998; Thornberry et al., 2004). Somewhat conversely, in less high-risk areas, research has yet to firmly establish that gang members are disproportionally responsible for serious and violent crimes.
14. What is the impact of gang membership on individual offending levels?
Gang membership is a strong predictor of individual violence in adolescence and, in one study, has been observed to be an even more powerful predictor than two of the most highly regarded factors (i.e., delinquent peer association and prior violence) (Thornberry, 1998; see also Battin-Pearson et al., 1998). Survey research has consistently demonstrated that individuals are significantly more criminally active during periods of active gang membership, particularly in serious and violent offenses, and that prolonged periods of gang involvement have a way of increasing the “criminal embeddedness” of members (Thornberry et al., 2003; Thornberry et al., 2004). “Associates” of gang members also have elevated offense rates (Curry et al., 2002)….
15. What are the major risk factors for gang membership?
Risk factors that predispose many youths to gang membership are also linked to a variety of adolescent problem behaviors, including serious violence and delinquency. The major risk factor domains are individual characteristics, family conditions, school experiences and performance, peer group influences, and the community context. Risk factors predictive of gang membership include prior and/or early involvement in delinquency, especially violence and alcohol/drug use; poor family management and problematic parent-child relations; low school attachment and achievement and negative labeling by teachers; association with aggressive peers and peers who engage in delinquency; and neighborhoods in which large numbers of youth are in trouble and in which drugs and firearms are readily available (Howell and Egley, 2005; see also Esbensen, 2000; Hill et al., 2001; Thornberry, 1998; Wyrick and Howell, 2004). The accumulation of risk factors greatly increases the likelihood of gang involvement, just as it does for other problem behaviors. The presence of risk factors in multiple risk-factor domains appears to increase the likelihood of gang involvement even more (Thornberry et al., 2003). A complete enumeration of risk factors for juvenile delinquency and gang involvement and data indicators can be accessed at the National Gang Center (NGC) Web site (http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/About/Strategic-Planning-Tool)…. https://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/About/FAQ#q9

See, Gangs http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/gangs

Science Daily reported about a University of Washington gang study in the article, Negative effects of joining a gang last long after gang membership ends:

University of Washington researchers have found that joining a gang in adolescence has significant consequences in adulthood beyond criminal behavior, even after a person leaves the gang. The research is published in the American Journal of Public Health.
“It turns out that, like violence, gang membership is as much a public health problem as a criminal justice problem,” said Karl Hill, study co-author and research associate professor in the School of Social Work. “Joining a gang in the teens had enduring consequences on health and well-being.”
The Seattle Social Development Project, which was founded by study co-author J. David Hawkins, followed 808 fifth-grade students from 18 elementary schools serving high-crime neighborhoods in Seattle, beginning in 1985. More than half of the students came from low-income families. Participants were interviewed every year until the age of 18, then every three years until the age of 33.
According to lead author Amanda Gilman, a doctoral candidate in the School of Social Work, joining a gang served as a turning point, creating consequences that cascaded into other areas of life for years afterward.
“Very few of them reported still being in a gang at age 27. The vast majority had left a long time ago, but the consequences stuck with them long-term,” Gilman said. Researchers used 23 risk factors to calculate a child’s propensity for joining a gang, and then compared 173 youth who had joined a gang with 173 who did not but showed a similar propensity for doing so, so that the only difference between the two groups was gang membership. The average age of joining a gang was just under 15 years old. No one in this study reported joining a gang after the age of 19, and the majority (60 percent) were in a gang for three years or less.
The 23 variables used to match the groups included individual factors such as antisocial beliefs, alcohol and marijuana use, violent behavior and hyperactivity; family factors such as poverty, family structure, sibling behavior and parent pro-violent attitudes; school factors such as academic aspiration and achievement; neighborhood factors such as the availability of marijuana and neighborhood kids in trouble; and whether the child associated with friends who engaged in problem behaviors. Researchers measured three areas of adult functioning at age 33: illegal behavior, education and occupational attainment, and physical and mental health. Those who joined a gang in adolescence were nearly three times more likely between ages 27 and 33 to report committing a crime, more than three times more likely to receive income from illegal sources, and more than twice as likely to have been incarcerated in the previous year.
Former gang members also were nearly three times more likely to have drug-abuse issues, were almost twice as likely to say they were in poor health, and twice as likely to be receiving public assistance. They were also half as likely to graduate from high school.
Gilman hopes the study will motivate schools and communities to develop and implement research-based strategies to prevent children from joining gangs, in the hopes of not only reducing crime, but increasing graduation rates and reducing physical and mental health costs….
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140313172945.htm

Citation:

Negative effects of joining a gang last long after gang membership ends

Date: March 13, 2014

Source: University of Washington
Summary:
Joining a gang in adolescence has significant consequences in adulthood beyond criminal behavior, even after a person leaves the gang. Former gang members are more likely to be in poor health, receiving government assistance and struggling with drug abuse than someone who never joined a gang.
Journal Reference:
1. Amanda B. Gilman, Karl G. Hill, J. David Hawkins. Long-Term Consequences of Adolescent Gang Membership for Adult Functioning. American Journal of Public Health, 2014; e1 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301821

Here is the press release from the University of Washington:

Mar 24 at 1:49 PM
March 13, 2014
Negative effects of joining a gang last long after gang membership ends
Doree Armstrong
News and Information
Posted under: News Releases, Research, Social Science
Imagine two children, both with the exact same risk factors for joining a gang. As teenagers, one joins a gang, the other doesn’t. Even though the first teen eventually leaves the gang, years later he or she is not only at significantly higher risk of being incarcerated and receiving illegal income, but is also less likely to have finished high school and more likely to be in poor health, receiving government assistance or struggling with drug abuse.
University of Washington researchers have found that joining a gang in adolescence has significant consequences in adulthood beyond criminal behavior, even after a person leaves the gang. The research is published in the American Journal of Public Health.
“It turns out that, like violence, gang membership is as much a public health problem as a criminal justice problem,” said Karl Hill, study co-author and research associate professor in the School of Social Work. “Joining a gang in the teens had enduring consequences on health and well-being.”
The Seattle Social Development Project, which was founded by study co-author J. David Hawkins, followed 808 fifth-grade students from 18 elementary schools serving high-crime neighborhoods in Seattle, beginning in 1985. More than half of the students came from low-income families. Participants were interviewed every year until the age of 18, then every three years until the age of 33.
According to lead author Amanda Gilman, a doctoral candidate in the School of Social Work, joining a gang served as a turning point, creating consequences that cascaded into other areas of life for years afterward.
“Very few of them reported still being in a gang at age 27. The vast majority had left a long time ago, but the consequences stuck with them long-term,” Gilman said.
Researchers used 23 risk factors to calculate a child’s propensity for joining a gang, and then compared 173 youth who had joined a gang with 173 who did not but showed a similar propensity for doing so, so that the only difference between the two groups was gang membership. The average age of joining a gang was just under 15 years old. No one in this study reported joining a gang after the age of 19, and the majority (60 percent) were in a gang for three years or less.
The 23 variables used to match the groups included individual factors such as antisocial beliefs, alcohol and marijuana use, violent behavior and hyperactivity; family factors such as poverty, family structure, sibling behavior and parent pro-violent attitudes; school factors such as academic aspiration and achievement; neighborhood factors such as the availability of marijuana and neighborhood kids in trouble; and whether the child associated with friends who engaged in problem behaviors. Researchers measured three areas of adult functioning at age 33: illegal behavior, education and occupational attainment, and physical and mental health.
Those who joined a gang in adolescence were nearly three times more likely between ages 27 and 33 to report committing a crime, more than three times more likely to receive income from illegal sources, and more than twice as likely to have been incarcerated in the previous year.
Former gang members also were nearly three times more likely to have drug-abuse issues, were almost twice as likely to say they were in poor health, and twice as likely to be receiving public assistance. They were also half as likely to graduate from high school.
Gilman hopes the study will motivate schools and communities to develop and implement research-based strategies to prevent children from joining gangs, in the hopes of not only reducing crime, but increasing graduation rates and reducing physical and mental health costs.
Hill said everyone can be involved in gang prevention in their own way, by reducing the 23 variables shown to be risk factors. “If you’re a parent, manage your family well. If you’re a community member, be involved in kids’ lives. If you’re a teacher, engage your kids and recognize good work. We can’t solve all of the risks kids are exposed to alone, but we can if we work together,” he said.
# # #
Gilman can be reached at abg5@uw.edu. Hill can be reached at khill@uw.edu or 206-685-3859.
This research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant numbers R01DA003721, R01DA009679 and R01DA024411-03-04), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (grant 21548), and the National Institute on Mental Health (grant 5 T32 MH20010).

Catharine Paddock, PhD wrote about the 23 factors of gang membership in the medical News Today article, Teen gang membership can harm adult years.

According to Paddock:

Using 23 risk factors, the researchers identified children likely to join a gang
From the interviews, and using a cluster of 23 risk factors, the researchers could identify children with a propensity for joining a gang. They then compared 173 teenagers who did join a gang with 173 who did not, but who also matched the same risk factors. So the only difference between the two groups was gang membership.
The 23 risk factors for making it likely that a child would join a gang were:
 Individual factors: such as having antisocial beliefs, use of alcohol and marijuana, hyperactive and violent behavior
 Family factors: including poverty, sibling behavior, parents with pro-violent attitudes, and family structure
 Neighborhood factors: including extent to which neighborhood kids were in trouble and the availability of marijuana
 Social factors: such as whether the child associated with friends who engaged in problem behaviors
 School factors: such as academic aspiration and achievement.
The researchers assessed three factors in adulthood when the participants reached the age of 33:
 Education and occupational achievement
 Illegal behavior
 Mental and physical health.
Former gang members more likely to experience negative consequences in adult life
They found adult participants who were former members of teen gangs, were nearly three times more likely, between the ages of 27 and 33, to report engaging in criminal activity, more than three times more likely to be in receipt of illegal income, and more than twice as likely to have been in jail in the previous year.
Former teen gang members were also nearly three times more likely to struggle with drug abuse, twice as likely to report poor health, and twice as likely to be in receipt of welfare. They were also half as likely to complete their high school education.
The average age at which a child joined a gang was just under 15. None of the participants reported joining after the age of 19, and 60% reported being in a gang for a maximum of 3 years….. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/274219.php

Clearly, preventing induction into gangs is crucial to minimizing both individual and community damage from gang membership.

Resources:

A Dozen Things Students Can Do to Stop School Violence http://www.sacsheriff.com/crime_prevention/documents/school_safety_04.cfm

A Dozen Things. Teachers Can Do To Stop School Violence.
http://www.ncpc.org/cms-upload/ncpc/File/teacher12.pdf

Preventing School Violence: A Practical Guide
http://www.indiana.edu/~safeschl/psv.pdf

Related:
Violence against teachers is becoming a bigger issue
https://drwilda.com/2013/11/29/violence-against-teachers-is-becoming-a-bigger-issue/

Hazing remains a part of school culture
https://drwilda.com/2013/10/09/hazing-remains-a-part-of-school-culture/

FEMA issues Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans
https://drwilda.com/2013/07/08/fema-issues-guide-for-developing-high-quality-school-emergency-operations-plans/

Study: 1 in 3 teens are victims of dating violence
https://drwilda.com/2013/08/05/study-1-in-3-teens-are-victims-of-dating-violence/

Pediatrics article: Sexual abuse prevalent in teen population
https://drwilda.com/2013/10/10/pediatrics-article-sexual-abuse-prevalent-in-teen-population/

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