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Survey Results

Number of jurisdictions with active youth gangs

In 1998, it was estimated that 4,463 U.S. cities and counties experienced gang activity
Prior to the 1995 National Youth Gang Survey, the highest recorded number of jurisdictions with active youth gangs was 282 in 1994 (Curry, Ball, and Decker, 1996a, b, c). However, most surveys prior to 1995 were limited in size and scope and did not include counties. Results of the 1995 National Youth Gang Survey indicated that 2,007 cities and counties had active youth gangs in 1995. This survey sample was much larger than samples in previous surveys and included more than 4,000 law enforcement agencies. However, only jurisdictions that reported gang problems in previous surveys were included. Therefore, the estimated number of jurisdictions with active youth gangs was much higher in 1995 than in 1994 or other previous estimates.

Despite the comprehensiveness of the 1995 survey sample, it was not statistically representative; thus, the data could not be extrapolated for jurisdictions that either did not respond to the survey or were not included in the sample. Therefore, a statistically representative sample was created and used for subsequent surveys.

In 1998, it was estimated that 4,463 U.S. cities and counties experienced gang activity, down about 5 percent from 4,712 in 1997 and down about 7.5 percent from 4,824 in 1996. Table 8 shows that the estimated number of jurisdictions with gangs decreased in all area types from 1996 to 1997, and both the reported and estimated number decreased in all area types from 1997 to 1998. The decrease in the estimated number of jurisdictions reporting gangs from 1997 to 1998 was 2 percent for large cities, nearly 5 percent for small cities, nearly 12 percent for suburban counties, and more than 9 percent for rural counties.

Table 8: Reported and Estimated Number of Jurisdictions With Active Youth Gangs, by Area Type, 1996, 1997, and 1998

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1998 Youth Gang Survey
OJJDP Summary
November 2000