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Gang Members and Delinquent Behavior

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 1997
6 pages
Publication Series
This Bulletin presents the findings from the Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS) concerning what portion of delinquency in American society can be attributed to gang members; it also discusses the response of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to the youth gang problem.
The RYDS began with a sample of 1,000 boys and girls in the seventh and eighth grades. The sample includes more youth from high-crime areas and fewer from low-crime areas. Data was collected at 6-month intervals from interviews with students and parents and from a variety of Rochester agencies, including the schools, police, courts, and social services. Based on interviews over a 4-year period with study participants who reported delinquent acts, the researchers estimated the number of delinquent acts by participants during this period. They then calculated the percentages reported by gang members and nonmembers. The findings show that gang members account for a disproportionate share of delinquent acts, particularly the more serious offenses. These findings establish the importance of not only preventing gang involvement but of intervening with youth who are already gang-involved and committing a disproportionate share of delinquent and criminal acts. Also described in this bulletin is OJJDP's balanced approach to the problem of gangs, which includes prevention, intervention, and suppression. Five major OJJDP initiatives that address gangs are described. 10 references and 4 resources

Date Published: June 1, 1997