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Race and Gender Differences Between Gang and Nongang Youths: Results From a Multisite Survey

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 15 Issue: 3 Dated: September 1998 Pages: 505-526
Date Published
22 pages

This article examines the demographic composition of gangs and the level of delinquent activity of gang members compared with non-gang members.


The article examines gang affiliation in a multisite survey of 5,935 eighth grade students in 42 schools located in 11 cities across the United States. Findings call into question the validity of prevailing notions about the number of girls in gangs and their level of delinquency involvement, and the number of white youths active in gangs and the extent of their illegal activities. Discrepancies in estimates of female gang participation may be attributable to the data-collection method and the age of earlier samples. Future researchers should include multiple methods and diverse age groups, and should consider the possibility that gangs are not the exclusive domain of young males, which will help identify and design gang prevention programs that include girls in the target population. This study confirmed that gang members are disproportionately members of ethnic and racial minorities, but also found white involvement (25 percent of gang members) greater than has generally been reported. All gang members, regardless of ethnicity, reported considerably higher levels of delinquency than their nongang ethnic counterparts. Notes, tables, references, appendix

Date Published: January 1, 1998