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NCJ Number: 205888 Find in a Library
Title: Antisocial Behavior and Youth Gang Membership: Selection and Socialization
Journal: Criminology  Volume:42  Issue:1  Dated:February 2004  Pages:55-87
Author(s): Rachel A. Gordon; Benjamin B. Lahey; Eriko Kawai; Rolf Loeber; Magda Stouthamer-Loeber; David P. Farrington
Date Published: February 2004
Page Count: 33
Type: Report (Study/Research) ; Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined whether gang membership was associated with higher levels of delinquency because boys who were predisposed to delinquent behavior were more likely than other boys to join gangs.
Abstract: The study used 10 years of longitudinal data on 858 participants in the Pittsburgh Youth Study (PYS) to identify periods in participants' lives before, during, and after gang membership. The PYS follows three samples representative of all boys who were enrolled in the first, fourth, or seventh grades in public schools in Pittsburgh in 1987-88. The current study included 503 boys from the youngest sample and 355 boys from the cohort of the oldest sample. The boys described themselves ethnically primarily as African-American (n=487) or White (n=351). The PYS is designed to provide a sizable sample of boys who engage in serious antisocial behavior and to maintain a comparison group of nonantisocial boys. Gang membership was determined by the boys' self-reports of being in a gang, without regard to a particular definition of a gang. The Peer Delinquency Scale elicited information about the antisocial behavior of the boys' close friends, and the Self-Reported Delinquency Scale was administered to boys in the oldest sample. Boys were asked separately open-ended questions about the activities of each gang as well as closed-ended questions about the activities of their most recent gang. Their responses were used to create delinquency variables parallel to those created for youth and peer delinquency. This study built on prior research in controlling for ages and calendar time, by better accounting for gang membership that occurred before the study began, and by using fixed-effects statistical models. The study found more evidence than did previous studies that boys who joined gangs were more delinquent before entering the gang than those who did not join a gang. Still, the findings of previous studies were replicated in showing that drug selling, drug use, violent behavior, and vandalism of property increased significantly after a youth joined a gang. The delinquency of peers was apparently one mechanism of socialization into increasing delinquent behaviors. Once adjustments were made for time trends, the increase in delinquency while a gang member receded to pregang levels when boys left the gangs. These findings reinforce the importance of interventions designed to counter delinquent youth gangs. 8 tables and 37 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile/Youth Gangs
Index Term(s): Gang member attitudes; Gang violence; Juvenile delinquency factors; Juvenile gang behavior patterns; Peer influences on behavior
Note: An earlier version of this paper was presented in the symposium, "A Closer Look at Deviant Peer Influences on Delinquent Activity," at the April 1999 Biennial Meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development in Albuquerque, NM; portions of this paper were also presented in the session, "Recent Findings From the Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency," held at the American Society of Criminology Conference, November 16, 2000.
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