Implications for Program and Policy Responses

Findings from NYGC’s Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country add to the current understanding of gang activity in these areas and have important implications for policy and practice regarding tribal youth. In general, the intensity of the gang problem and the severity of gang members’ criminal involvement are relatively low. The majority of the survey respondents appear to experience gang problems similar to those in less populated communities throughout the nation. Based on this finding, it is possible to recommend prevention, intervention, and suppression programs for Indian communities by considering programs that have successfully targeted delinquent activity and gang involvement in the general population.

For example, because the majority of Indian country communities say their gangs are in the early stages of development—and because delinquent behavior is a strong predictor of gang membership—programs that prevent delinquency are likely to reduce gang involvement (Howell, Egley, and Gleason, 2002). Delinquency prevention programs that help youth develop social skills, provide opportunities to use them, and recognize youth for successfully implementing them may help prevent delinquency involvement (Catalano and Hawkins, 1996). However, it is important to remember that although these programs have shown promise, most have not been tested with an Indian population. Therefore, these programs may need to be adapted to better address issues faced by Indian populations and to evaluate their effectiveness in this setting.

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Youth Gangs in Indian Country OJJDP Bulletin March 2004