This research examines gang desistance.
Following a noticeable absence, studies of gang desistance have begun to appear in the literature. Spurred by results from panel studies that gang membership is a transitory stage for the majority of gang-involved youth, researchers have begun to examine motivations, methods, and consequences associated with leaving the gang. Relatively absent from these recent publications is attention to the operationalization of gang desistance, an issue of particular importance in survey research. As with concerns about how to define gang membership, it is essential that one explores conceptual and methodological issues associated with defining gang desistance. In this article, the authors introduce three operationalizations of gang desistance and then examine how the characteristics of "desisters" and the expressed motivations, methods, and consequences for leaving the gang vary across the three different operational definitions. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.