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Youth Gangs in Rural America

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 251 Dated: July 2004 Pages: 2-6
Date Published
July 2004
5 pages
Publication Series
In examining youth gangs in rural America, this study analyzed the factors associated with the presence of rural youth gangs and compares rural gangs with urban gangs.
Even though gangs are seen, as shown through the National Youth Gang Survey (NYGS), to still be heavily concentrated in medium and large cities, gang problems are occurring in communities of all sizes and locations. Adapted from the National Institute of Justice final report entitled, "Gangs in Rural America," this study merged NYGS data with economic, demographic, and other data concerning the same geographic areas, so the factors associated with the presence of rural youth gangs could be analyzed. The data was divided the nonmetropolitan jurisdictions into three categories: persistent gang problems (23 percent); persistent absence of gangs (57 percent); and transitory or temporary gang problems (20 percent). Of the nonmetropolitan agencies reporting gangs in 1997, the more rural the jurisdiction, the less likely they were to continue to report gangs in 2000. The finding that only 41 percent of the agencies reporting a gang in 1997 reported the presence of a gang in 2000 is substantially lower than would be expected if gangs were persistent in rural areas. Findings suggest that predictors of gang activity in a rural area include: (1) areas experiencing economic growth (2) the percentage of the county's population that lived in an urban area; and (3) the percentage of county residents who worked outside of their home county. The differences between urban and rural gangs strongly suggest that the policies and practices aimed at suppressing urban gangs may not be the best approaches in nonurban/rural areas.

Date Published: July 1, 2004