U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership

NCJ Number
Thomas R. Simon, Ph.D., Nancy M. Ritter, Reshma R. Mahendra, M.P.H.
Date Published
September 2013
166 pages
This book provides practitioners and policymakers with research-based information on why youth become involved in gangs and offers effective and promising strategies that prevent them from joining gangs, with a focus on the combined and cooperative efforts and resources of the public-health and public-safety sectors.
The chapters offer six themes in broad, strategic actions that can counter gang-joining: build partnerships; use data; frame the issue; create a plan; implement the plan; and evaluate its effectiveness. The partnerships encompass agencies whose functions are in the broad domains of public health and public safety. The four components of the public-health sector's involvement in preventing gang-joining are to describe and monitor the problem, to identify the risk and protective factors, to develop and evaluate prevention strategies, and to ensure widespread implementation. Public-health research and practice related to risk and protective factors encompasses the spheres of child development, family environment, school influence, community variables, and race/ethnicity factors. In the public-safety sector, the book's focus is on law enforcement's use of the SARA model, which is an acronym for scanning, analyzing, responding, and assessing the problem. These tasks encompass scanning the environment for crime problems, analyzing problems through multiple sources of information, developing a response, and assessing the effectiveness of the response. A separate chapter addresses how to prevent girls from joining gangs. The design, planning, and implementation of strategies to prevent gang-joining should include representatives from public-health and public-safety agencies. Personnel and financial resources from both of these sectors should be used in all phases of the strategies, including evaluations. Chapter notes and data