This article reports the results of an 11-city youth-gang study focusing on self-control.
The research took place in the spring of 1995. The participants averaged 13.8 years of age; 48.1 percent were males. Youths with low self-control levels reported that they were more deeply involved in gangs than youths with high self-control, as were youth who did not receive close parental monitoring. Differences also existed by gender, minority group status, and family structure. However, the relationships between parents and children and the level of parental supervision, not family structure, were important in the development of self-control. Findings reinforced the importance of parents in the prevention of and intervention in youth gang involvement. Findings suggested that prevention and intervention programs should involve parents and indicated the need to channel youths’ risk-seeking tendencies into activities that encourage youths to challenge themselves to achieve specific goals. Findings also suggested the desirability of greater parent involvement in traditional juvenile court approaches; grater attention to monitoring males’ behaviors and increasing males’ levels of self-control; and research on additional risk factors from the peer, school, and community domains. Tables, appended table, and 46 references (Author abstract modified)