From the Administrator

Youth gangs are on the rise. Today they threaten virtually every major city, many small communities, and even rural areas. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is committed to helping communities overcome this problem, and an essential first step is understanding the factors that contribute to the growth of youth gangs and the relationship of gang membership to delinquency.

Gang Membership, Delinquent Peers, and Delinquent Behavior describes the findings of OJJDP- funded longitudinal research involving juveniles in Seattle, WA, and Rochester, NY. This research addressed a fundamental question, "Does gang membership contribute to delinquency above and beyond the influence of associating with delinquent peers?" The answer was yes in both cities, despite significant differences in demographics.

After describing study methods and results, the authors summarize the implications of their findings. One crucial implication is that communities developing comprehensive approaches to reducing juvenile violence and victimization must consider the role of youth gangs and the necessity of including youth gang prevention, intervention, and suppression components.

Shay Bilchik

Gang Membership, Delinquent Peers, and Delinquent Behavior Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  October 1998