U.S. flag

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

How Can We Prevent Girls From Joining Gangs?

Date Published
September 15, 2013

Contrary to conventional stereotypes, girls join gangs in large numbers. In the U.S., girls may comprise at least one-quarter of all youth gang members. Girls join gangs for many of the same reasons boys do — such as a sense of belonging, excitement or protection — but girls also present some gender-specific concerns. For example, girls are more likely than boys to

seek “safety” from sexual abuse by joining a gang, but girls actually face an even greater risk of sexual victimization as a result of gang-joining. Prevention efforts should focus on helping girls stay in school, avoid substance abuse and abusive boyfriends, and delay early sexual activity and parenthood.

In the Spotlight: This chapter features an interview with Marian Daniel, Founder of the Female Intervention Team, which operates within the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice.

Read the Changing Course chapter “How Can We Prevent Girls From Joining Gangs?” by Meda Chesney-Lind (pdf, 13 pages).

About This Article

This article presents a chapter summary from the joint National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publication Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership (pdf, 166 pages). Changing Course features chapters written by some of the nation’s top criminal justice and public health researchers. The volume was edited by Thomas R. Simon, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nancy M. Ritter, National Institute of Justice, Reshma R. Mahendra, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Date Created: September 15, 2013