Explore the relative impact of transitions into and out of gangs on adolescent involvement in delinquency and determine the mechanisms associated with these changes in deviant behavior.
Explore the relative impact of transitions into and out of gangs on adolescent involvement in delinquency and determine the mechanisms associated with these changes in deviant behavior. Hierarchical discontinuous regression models are utilized to examine changes in elevation and slope in outcomes associated with gang membership status transitions using six waves of panel data from a school-based sample of 512 gang-involved youth. Results reveal the potential for gang membership to have an enduring impact on involvement in delinquent activity, but also on attitudes, emotions, and unstructured activities associated with a higher risk of offending. Heightened elevation in proximate postgang membership observations of offending was mediated by the mechanisms associated with a turning point. Gang membership, however brief, can have an impact on adolescent development after self-reported membership ends. While desistance from gang membership is a good first step in promoting better outcomes, youth remain more at risk of antisocial behavior after leaving the gang than they were prior to joining such groups. Research on the enduring impact of gang membership is needed, as well as programs and policies that might lessen the severity of the impact of gang membership on later life outcomes. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage.