ERIC Number: ED426175
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Oct
Comparing the Criminal Behavior of Youth Gangs and At-Risk Youths. Research in Brief.
Huff, C. Ronald
A study was conducted to compare the criminal behavior of gang members and nongang at-risk youths in four urban and suburban communities, Denver (Colorado), Aurora (Colorado), Broward County (Florida), and Cleveland (Ohio). The first three communities were emergent, rather than chronic, gang environments, but in Cleveland, information on gangs dates back to 1986. In all, 187 interviews were conducted with gang members, and 194 with nongang members. Findings support other research that suggests that gang membership increases the likelihood and frequency that members will commit serious and violent crimes. Gang members at each site were also more likely to sell drugs than nongang at-risk youths. Both groups, however, reported that gangs do not control drug trafficking in their neighborhoods. This research also found that, contrary to popular belief, youths can resist overtures to join a gang without serious reprisals from members. Reprisals that were suffered were often milder than the initiations experienced by those who joined gangs. The median age for joining a gang was about 14 years, and the age of first arrest mirrored the age at which youths join gangs. Data on the escalation of criminal activity suggest that an important opportunity to intervene with gang members occurs in the early years of gang involvement. (Contains 8 exhibits and 15 notes.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Department of Justice, Washington, DC. National Inst. of Justice.