U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

Youth Violence Research

  • Criminal Behavior of Gang Members and At-Risk Youths
    National Institute of Justice, 1998
    Recent estimates predict that there are currently more than 16,000 active gangs in the United States, and gang members number close to 1 million individuals and are responsible for over 600,000 crimes per year. Discussing research on gangs and gang-related criminal behaviors, the author details both a Colorado-Florida and a Cleveland research study focused on self-reported data concerning gang-related criminal activities. The data generated by these research studies indicate significant differences between the behavior of gang members and at-risk youths, although both groups indicated involvement with guns and gang members. Gang members are often more involved in selling drugs than are at-risk youths, and gang leaders typically engage in the more serious forms of criminal behavior such as the drug trade. This research preview suggests that earlier studies have identified a close relationship between gang membership and various forms of criminal behavior.
  • Growth of Youth Gang Problems in the United States: 1970-1998
    Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2001
    The prevalence and seriousness of gang problems have fluctuated over time, with gang activity escalating during some periods and diminishing during others. The last three decades of the 20th century were characterized by a major escalation of youth gang problems throughout the Nation. This report presents detailed information on the numbers and specific identities of gang problem localities, the size of these localities, rates of growth, and location by State and region of the cities, towns, villages, and counties that reported gang problems between the 1970's and late 1990's. By the late 1990's, 3,700 identified localities in the United States, totaling the highest number ever reported presence of gang problems. In the 1970's, 19 States reported gang problems; by the late 1990's, all 50 States and the District of Columbia had reported gang problems. The States with the largest number of gang-problem cities in 1998 were California, Illinois, Texas, Florida, and Ohio. Nationwide, there was a substantial decrease in the concentration of gang cities in the higher ranking States as gang problems continued to spread to new States. The regional location of gang cities changed radically during the three-decade period. In the 1970's, the West ranked the highest in the reported number of gang cities, and the South ranked the lowest. In 1998, the South ranked second. In the late 1990's, there were approximately 200 cities with populations of 100,000 or more, and every one of these large cities reported youth gang problems. Gang problems however, were not confined to large cities. One of the best documented developments of this period was a striking increase in the growth of gang problems in the Nation's smaller cities, towns, and villages. Reasons for the striking increase in the number of gang problem localities are discussed under seven headings: drugs, immigration, gang names and alliances, migration, government policies, female-headed households, and gang subculture and the media. An analysis of projected growth rates of gang problem cities provides a basis for predicting future trends in the number of gang cities. The data provides support for a prediction that the rate of growth that prevailed in the later 1990's will decrease in the early 2000's and a prediction that the actual number of gang localities will decrease.
  • Juvenile Justice Journal, Vol 9, No 1, September 2004
    Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2004
    Each of the three longitudinal studies -- the Denver Youth Survey, the Pittsburgh Youth Study, and the Rochester Youth Development Study -- used a design in which a sample of children and/or adolescents was selected and then followed over time to chart the course of their development. The studies oversampled youth at high risk for serious delinquency; however, because the studies used statistical weighting, the samples were representative of the broader population of urban adolescents. The studies produced data on delinquent behavior of sample subjects from 1987 to the present (2003) and have included more than 4,000 subjects who have ranged in age from 7 to 30. The samples included a strong representation of serious, violent, and chronic offenders. Two of the key risk factors for delinquency identified from the three studies and discussed in this article are child maltreatment and gangs. The second featured article presents a framework for a strategic, risk-based response to youth gangs that can be adopted even without full communitywide collaboration and regardless of whether the focus is prevention, intervention, or suppression, or a combination of these methods. The article advises that a strategic, risk-based response must be grounded in a general understanding of youth gangs combined with an in-depth knowledge of local youth gang problems. A third article profiles three projects that have used a community approach to reduce risk factors for delinquency through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Title V Community Prevention Grants Program. The three programs are the Youth and Families with Promise program in two Utah counties, the Parent Project in Minidoka County, ID, and the Adopt-A-Class program in Easton, PA. This issue concludes with summaries of seven recent publications regarding delinquency issues.
  • Report to Congress on Juvenile Violence Research
    Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1999
    This report presents the collective results of studies funded under a 1992 congressional directive to OJJDP to fund research examining violence committed by or against juveniles in urban and rural areas. Among the research objectives were to examine the characteristics of juveniles involved in violence, to determine the context in which juvenile violence tends to occur, and to make recommendations for the prevention and control of violence by or against juveniles.
  • Responding to Gangs: Evaluation and Research
    National Institute of Justice, 2002
    The projects reflect a diverse set of methodologies and interests. They present a representative selection of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ) collection of gang-related research. Chapter 1 discusses a decade of gang research and the findings of the NIJ gang portfolio. Each research project is summarized. Chapter 2 presents the evolution of street gangs and examines form and variation. Chapter 3 describes the risk factors, delinquency, and victimization risk for young women in street gangs. Chapter 4 focuses on youth gang homicides in the 1990's. Three issues of importance to the understanding of gang homicide -- measurement, trends, and correlates are examined. The National Evaluation of the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program is outlined in chapter 5. This program is classroom-based and consists of eight lessons designed to teach middle school students life skills that enable them to resist the pressures of gangs, drugs, and delinquency. Chapter 6 evaluates Nevada's antigang legislation and gang prosecution units. Chapter 7, presents an evaluation of a task force approach to gangs. The task force, known as JUDGE (Jurisdictions Unified for Drug Gang Enforcement), did not clear up the question of whether specific gang enforcement yielded better results than did traditional forms of law enforcement. Chapter 8 describes an evaluation of gang prevention programs for female adolescents. It was found that gang membership showed as much variation for young women as it did for men. Chapter 9 focuses on reducing gang violence in Boston. Chapter 10 describes the development of a GIS-based regional gang incident tracking system. Recommendations for future directions in gang research include incorporating some of the insights of research literature outside the gang field; funding collaborative efforts; and considering the use of a dynamic problem-solving approach
  • School Crime Patterns: A National Profile of U.S. Public High Schools Using Rates of Crime Reported to Police: Report on the Study on School Violence and Prevention
    U.S. Department of Education, 2002
    In this third of three reports from the Study on School Violence and Prevention, the focus was on survey results reflecting the proportion of high schools that had high rates of violence, the characteristics of high schools with high rates of violent crime, and the methods used to control disorder related to the level of violence.
  • Toward Safe and Orderly Schools - The National Study of Delinquency Prevention in Schools
    National Institute of Justice, 2004
    This report presents the findings from a national, federally funded study which surveyed school staff and students on school safety and the programs used to prevent problem behavior and promote a safe school environment.
  • Wide Scope, Questionable Quality: Drug and Violence Prevention Efforts in American Schools, Report on the Study on School Violence and Prevention
    U.S. Department of Education, 2002
    In this first of three reports from the Study on School Violence and Prevention, a national examination is conducted on the status of school safety and what schools are doing to promote safety and prevent problem behavior.
  • Wide Scope, Questionable Quality: Three Reports from the Study on School Violence and Prevention (Executive Summary)
    U.S. Department of Education, 2002
    This report presents a summary of findings from a three-part Study on School Violence and Prevention conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and National Institute of Justice investigating the extent of problem behavior in schools across the United States and various aspects of delinquency prevention efforts and strategies in schools.
  • Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Surgeon General, 2001
    This report commissioned, by the United States Surgeon General, on youth violence specifically focused on the scope of the problem, its causes, and prevention measures.
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