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NCJ Number: 184034 Find in a Library
Title: Overcoming Problems Associated With Gang Research: A Standardized and Systemic Methodology
Journal: Journal of Gang Research  Volume:7  Issue:4  Dated:Summer 2000  Pages:1-8
Author(s): Douglas L. Yearwood; Richard Hayes
Date Published: 2000
Page Count: 8
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper addresses two common problems that are typically encountered during gang research: the lack of a standardized definition of a gang and law enforcement officials' denial of a gang presence in a community.
Abstract: The lack of uniform definition of what constitutes a gang precludes researchers from comparing different gangs across varying jurisdictions and over time. Law enforcement officials' denial of a gang presence in their community precludes researchers from obtaining an accurate and comprehensive profile of gangs and their activities. A recent statewide and systemic investigation of gangs in North Carolina used a standard definition for gangs and surveyed members of the entire criminal justice system in an effort to alleviate, or at least minimize, these common problems and to increase the study's reliability, validity, and generalizability. The study used techniques designed to minimize or alleviate problems that emerge when survey respondents are allowed to self-define what constitutes a gang or when the researchers do not adopt a standard and uniform gang definition. Survey techniques were also designed to identify and overcome respondent denial of the existence of gangs in the community. This was done by including not only law enforcement agencies in the survey but also school resource officers, court counselors, chief probation officers, and detention and training school directors. The survey respondents identified 332 distinct gangs in North Carolina, with at least 5,143 members (an average of 15.5 members per gang). The authors recommend that standardized gang definitions be incorporated into more gang research studies and that they use a systemic approach when investigating the nature and prevalence of gangs and their activities. 1 table and 17 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile/Youth Gangs
Index Term(s): Definitions; Research methods
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