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Gang Membership and Violent Victimization

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 21 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2004 Pages: 793-815
Date Published
December 2004
23 pages

This study examined the relationship between youth gang membership and violent victimization among a general sample of adolescents.


Previous research on the effects of gang membership has held that gang membership increases the delinquency of youth, both during and after gang membership. Empirical research has also suggested an increase in victimization rates among gang-involved youth. The current study expanded on this body of research by exploring whether gang members have higher rates of violent victimization than non-gang members both during and after gang involvement. Data were drawn from 2 studies, a longitudinal study involving approximately 3,500 students and a cross-sectional study involving 5,935 students, which were part of the National Evaluation of the Gang Resistance Education and Training program. Measures were included for gang involvement, reasons for joining a gang, and violent victimization. Results of statistical analyses indicated significantly higher violent victimization rates among gang members before, during, and after gang membership than were found among non-gang members. Other results supported findings from previous research on the transient nature of gang membership; most youths reported gang membership for only 1 year. Finally, it was noted that contrary to the perceptions of some gang members, gang membership affords no protection from violent victimization. These findings indicate that gang prevention programs are crucial in the effort to decrease victimization rates among youth. Tables, figures, references

Date Published: December 1, 2004