John J. Wilson, Acting Administrator August 2000

Youth Gang LogoYouth Gangs in Schools

James C. Howell and James P. Lynch


Characteristics of Gangs in Schools

Reasons for Greater Gang Prevalence in Some Schools

Impact of Gangs on Victimization at School




This Bulletin was prepared under Cooperative Agreement 95-JD-MU-K001 with the Institute for Intergovernmental Research from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice.

Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of OJJDP or the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office for Victims of Crime.

From the Administrator

The incidence of gangs in schools nearly doubled from 1989 to 1995, mirroring the growth in youth gangs seen over the past two decades. With the strong correlation between the presence in schools of gangs and guns—and gangs and drugs—this increase is particularly disturbing.

Drawing on a report published by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice in 1998 and other literature, Youth Gangs in Schools analyzes findings from the School Crime Supplements (SCS) to the National Crime Victim Survey, describes characteristics of gangs in schools, and discusses contributory factors to gang prevalence in schools. The impact of gang presence in schools on victimization is also reviewed.

One-third of the students surveyed in the 1995 SCS reported the presence of gangs in their schools. Most gangs that students see at school are actively involved in criminal activity, with two-thirds involved in one or more of the following types of criminal acts: violence, drug sales, and carrying guns.

As the above data illustrate, the problem of youth gangs in schools demands our attention. The information that this Youth Gang Series Bulletin provides will help us to focus our efforts in this direction.

John J. Wilson
Acting Administrator



James C. Howell, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Researcher with the National Youth Gang Center, Institute for Intergovernmental Research, Tallahassee, FL. James P. Lynch, Ph.D., is a Professor at American University, School of Public Affairs, Washington, DC.

The authors thank the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, for making the NCVS/SCS database available for this analysis. This study benefited greatly from reviews and suggestions made by John Moore, National Youth Gang Center, and Gary Gottfredson, Gottfredson Associates, Inc.

NCJ 183015

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