According to OJJDP's 2008 National Youth Gang Survey, more than 32 percent of all cities, suburban areas, towns, and rural counties experienced gang problems in 2008. This represents a 15-percent increase since 2002. During that same period, the number of gangs in the United States increased by 28 percent; in 2008, there were an estimated 27,900 gangs active in the United States.
To address this serious problemwhich is compounded by the fact that gangs and gang violence have become increasingly complex, lethal, and resistant to prevention and control over the yearsOJJDP supported the implementation of its Comprehensive Gang Model that helps communities effectively identify target areas with high levels of gang activity, define and locate gangs, and focus appropriate resources on them. The model promotes the interaction of theory, research, and program experience.
OJJDP and the National Gang Center recently created an online tool designed to familiarize state and local organizations with the model. The tool, the Comprehensive Gang Model Overview, provides a 23-minute discussion of OJJDP's model. Key concepts covered include a brief overview of the nation's gang problem, explanation of the theory behind the model and its five core strategies, a discussion about how to effectively assess a gang problem, and tools to assist community leaders in implementing the model in their communities. Transcripts are available for each module. The end of the presentation includes a list of resources and tips to help communities plan for the long-term sustainability of anti-gang programs and strategies.
In October 2009, the National Youth Gang Center, which had been funded by OJJDP since 1995, merged with the National Gang Center (NGC), which had been funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance since 2003. Consolidation of the centers has leveraged resources and resulted in a single, more efficient entity, responsive to the needs of researchers, practitioners, and the public.
In addition to the Comprehensive Gang Model Overview, the National Gang Center Web site features a wealth of information and resources for communities attempting to address gang problems. The Web site includes the latest research about gangs; descriptions of evidence-based, anti-gang programs; and links to tools, databases, and other resources to assist in developing and implementing effective community-based gang prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies.
An online form allows communities to request training and technical assistance as they plan and implement anti-gang strategies. Users can register for a variety of anti-gang training courses. The Web site also hosts a database of gang-related state legislation and municipal codes, a list of newspaper articles on nationwide gang activity that is updated daily, and GANGINFO, an electronic mailing list for professionals working with gangs.