Are the risk and protective factors similar for gang-involved, pressured-to-join, and non-gang-involved youth? A social-ecological analysis

Gabriel J. Merrin, Jun Sung Hong, Dorothy L. Espelage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines the risk and protective factors for gang involvement among subgroups of youth (i.e., current or former gang members, youth who resisted gang membership, and non-gang-involved youth) using the social-ecological framework. Middle and high school students (N = 17,366) from school districts in a large Midwestern county participated. Results indicated that males were more likely than females to be involved in gangs. For the individual context, our findings indicate that racial and ethnic minorities, females, and youth with depression/ suicidal ideation are likely to be at risk for gang involvement. For the family context, we found that having gang-involved family members and family dysfunction are related to youth gang involvement. For the peer context, peers'alcohol and drug use and bullying were significantly associated with gang involvement. For the school context, as our results demonstrate, youth who perceived fair treatment from teachers and other adults in school and those with a sense of belonging in school are more likely to avoid gang membership. For the neighborhood context, we found that presence of adult support in the neighborhood and perceived neighborhood safety are negatively associated with gang membership. Findings suggest that gang prevention efforts need to target multiple ecologies that surround and influence youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522-535
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Volume85
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Gang
  • Social-ecological framework
  • Violence
  • Youth

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