Parenting and family development set the stage for the experiences and context of a child’s early life. Strong families are a major protective factor in preventing gang-joining. Effective parenting and strong family functioning — including monitoring and consistent discipline — protect against a variety of antisocial and problem behaviors, such as involvement with delinquent peers and subsequent likelihood of gang membership and violence. On the other hand, poor family functioning increases the risk for a host of poor outcomes, including aggression, violence and gang affiliation.
Very early prevention efforts — such as programs focusing on low-income pregnant mothers and families with young children — show promising results. Additionally, programs that help build networks of social support and foster family-community ties can provide an additional protective factor to prevent youth involvement in gangs and other types of violence.
In the Spotlight: This chapter features an interview with Jan Hassan-Butera and Rhonda Jackson, both with SCO Family of Services in New York City, which provides multisystemic therapy through the Juvenile Justice Initiative program for kids involved in the justice system. Hassan-Butera is the Queens Program Director, and Jackson is a clinical supervisor.
Read the Changing Course chapter “What Should Be Done in the Family to Prevent Gang Membership?” by Deborah Gorman-Smith, Kimberly (Bromann) Cassel and Andrea Kampfner (pdf, 14 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.