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Survey Results

Race/Ethnicity

The 1998 National Youth Gang Survey revealed that Hispanics were the predominant racial/ethnic group among all gang members nationwide.

The 1998 National Youth Gang Survey revealed that Hispanics were the predominant racial/ethnic group among all gang members nationwide. As shown in table 19, Hispanics accounted for 46 percent of all gang members, followed by African Americans (34 percent), Caucasians (12 percent), Asians (6 percent), and other races (2 percent).

Table 19: Race/Ethnicity of Youth Gang Members, 1998

Although Caucasians did not represent the largest proportion of gang members in any of the area types, they were rather prevalent in small cities and rural counties.

Figure 6 compares race/ethnicity of youth gang members in 1996 and 1998. There was a slight increase in the proportion of Hispanic and Asian gang members and a slight decrease in the proportion of Caucasian and African American members over the 2-year period.

Figure 6: Race/Ethnicity of Youth Gang Members, 1996 and 1998

As shown in table 20, Hispanic was the predominant racial/ethnic group among youth gang members in large cities (47 percent of all gang members), suburban counties (47 percent), and small cities (46 percent), and African American was the predominant racial/ethnic group in rural counties (36 percent). Although Caucasians did not represent the largest proportion of gang members in any of the area types, they were rather prevalent in small cities and rural counties, where they represented 30 percent and 27 percent of all gang members, respectively.

Table 20: Race/Ethnicity  of Youth Gang Members, by Area Type, 1998

African American youth gang members were predominant in the Midwest and Northeast, and Hispanic gang members were predominant in the South and West.

Table 21 shows that African American youth gang members were predominant in the Midwest and Northeast, and Hispanic gang members were predominant in the South and West. African Americans were a majority (57 percent) of the gang members in the Midwest, and Hispanics were a majority (60 percent) in the West. African American gang members were also very prevalent in the Northeast (41 percent), and Hispanic gang members were very prevalent in the South (42 percent). The prevalence of white gang members was similar across three of the regions: the Midwest (14 percent), the Northeast (15 percent), and the South (19 percent). Asian gang members were reported primarily in the Northeast and West (9 percent and 8 percent, respectively).

Table 21: Race/Ethnicity of Youth Gang Members, by Region, 1998

Table 22 shows the race/ethnicity of youth gang members in 1998, by area type and region. In large cities in the Midwest, African American gang members were most prevalent (57 percent). African American gang members also were most prevalent in large cities in the Northeast (40 percent). Hispanic gang members were most prevalent in large cities in the South (43 percent), and they represented a majority of gang members in large cities in the West (60 percent). A similar pattern is seen in suburban counties, where African American gang members were most prevalent in the Midwest and Northeast, and Hispanic gang members were most prevalent in the West and South.

Table 22: Race/Ethnicity  of Youth Gang Members, by Area Type and Region, 1998

In small cities, Hispanic gang members were far more prevalent than other racial/ethnic groups in the West (76 percent), African American gang members were almost a majority in the South (48 percent), and Caucasian gang members were almost a majority in the Midwest (49 percent) and Northeast (47 percent). A similar pattern is seen in rural counties, where Hispanic gang members were far more prevalent than other racial/ethnic groups in the West (69 percent), and African American gang members were almost a majority in the South (48 percent). In rural counties, however, Caucasian gang members were in the majority in the Midwest (55 percent).

The largest proportion of mixed gangs was in small cities, and the smallest proportion was in large cities.

Multiethnic/multiracial youth gangs. The 1998 survey asked respondents to estimate the percentage of youth gangs in their jurisdictions with a significant mixture of two or more racial/ethnic groups. Survey responses indicated that 36 percent of all gangs in the United States in 1998 were “mixed.”

Table 23 shows the proportion of mixed gangs in large cities, small cities, suburban counties, and rural counties. The largest proportion of mixed gangs was in small cities (54 percent), and the smallest proportion was in large cities (32 percent).

Table 23: Multiethnic/Multiracial Youth Gangs, by Area Type, 1998

As shown in table 24, the proportion of mixed gangs was larger in the Midwest than in any other region, regardless of area type: small cities (66 percent), suburban counties (62 percent), rural counties (50 percent), and large cities (40 percent). The proportion of mixed gangs in large cities was also 40 percent in the South.

Table 24: Multiethnic/Multiracial Youth Gangs, by Area Type and Region, 1998

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1998 Youth Gang Survey
OJJDP Summary
November 2000