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.
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- 1Department of Educational Psychology.
- 2School of Social Work.
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