U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Violence and Gangs: Gender Differences in Perceptions and Behavior

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 15 Issue: 1 Dated: March 1999 Pages: 63-96
Date Published
34 pages

Data from eighth-grade students in 11 cities were used to examine the relative contribution of social bond, self-control, and social learning concepts to the explanation of male and female violent offending and to explore the unique contribution of gang membership, school environment, and prior victimization to these models.


The study was prompted by recognition that most violence research has focused on males, but recent studies indicate that females are also involved in violent crimes. However, few studies have examined whether different or similar models explain male and female involvement in violent behavior. The present research was part of a larger evaluation of the Gang Resistance Education and Training program, a gang prevention program for youth in middle schools. Data came from schools that offered this program during the past 2 years in each of 11 cities. The sample included 5,935 students from 315 classrooms in 42 schools. Students completed a self-report survey during a class period; researchers read the questions out loud to the students. The instrument gathered information on demographic, attitudinal, and behavioral factors. A higher proportion of males than females were involved in violence, gangs, or both. Results of a Chow test indicated the need for separate theoretical models. Different factors accounted for male and female rates of violent behavior, despite some similarities. Violent crime by females could not be attributed to gang membership by itself or to just those explanatory factors used in the study of violence by males. Findings also implied the need for special prevention and intervention efforts aimed specifically at females. Tables, appended methodological information, and 98 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1999