Oftentimes, the gang is a multiple-aged peer groupwith older members in their late teens or early twenties acting as role models for younger members.
How are street gangs different from other criminal groups, such as organized crime groups, motorcycle gangs, ideology groups, and prison gangs? Some notable examples include the organized, collective drug trade, strong ties, and covert behavior among prison gangs, compared with less structured, more individualistic drug trade, highly fluctuating ties, and overt behavior among street gangs.
Is the gang problem changing?
It is well-known and inarguable that the gang problem has changed, as well as become more entrenched, over the past 25 years. Media reporting has a natural tendency to cover areas experiencing escalations in gang violence, sometimes directly or inadvertently creating the illusion that the upsurge is widespread and perpetual.
A sudden increase in gang activity—in particular, violent gang activity—in a geographic area e. At the most basic level, gang activity is localized in nature and tends to follow a cyclical pattern with upswings followed by downturns.
Gang violence is best regarded as a cycle that stems from the ever-changing and volatile nature of conflict, rivalry, and competition among local gangs.
The localized nature of these types of cyclical patterns represents the primary explanation for gang crime and violence across the United States. At any given point in time, every gang-problem city and gang-problem neighborhood within larger cities is at its own point in the cycle of gang violence.
On a national scale, the gang problem has changed over the decades, as evidenced by the growing number of gangs and gang members, the availability and use of firearms, and the emergence of a persistent, long-standing gang presence despite constant turnover in membership in major cities across the United States.
These trends represent reliable findings, which can be used to characterize the gang problem as a whole. More recently, discovered involvement of one or a few gangs in criminal offenses that have been considered atypical of street gang criminal behavior is getting national attention.
Recent examples include white-collar crimes, human trafficking, prostitution rings, infiltration of governmental and criminal justice agencies, usage of social networking sites and other Internet sites to coordinate criminal activity, and affiliation with domestic extremist groups.
While it is important to recognize the emerging and evolving criminal activities of gangs, it is critical not to overgeneralize these as trends that are representative of most gangs in the United States. Without reliable and methodologically sound empirical evidence collected over time, it is careless to assume that the discovered involvement of one or a few gangs in a criminal activity is an emerging trend that applies to all gangs.
How extensive is the current gang problem? In order to properly assess changes in the national gang problem over time, reliable indicators of the gang problem must be collected from a large and representative sample of law enforcement agencies across the United States.
Between andthe National Youth Gang Survey NYGS provided the only national data source for assessing long-term and annual changes in the gang problem across the following areas: In terms of the prevalence measures, the latest estimate from the NYGS finds that gangs are present in approximately 30 percent of the jurisdictions across the United States.
This figure represents a sizeable drop from the mids, when 40 percent of jurisdictions reported a gang presence. Following a steady decline throughout the late s, the gang prevalence measure reached its lowest point insteadily increased in subsequent years, and has remained relatively stable in recent years.
The least amount of change occurred in the largest cities and suburban counties, where gang activity remains most prevalent, while the greatest amount of change has occurred in rural counties and smaller cities—especially the latter, where the gang prevalence rate fell nearly 10 percentage points from to The frequency of this transitory pattern suggests that the emergence of gang activity does not necessarily indicate a protracted presence over time.
While prevalence measures provide a straightforward and simplified assessment of the gang problem, a better measure pertains to the size, or magnitude, of the gang problem in terms of the number of gangs and gang members, as well as the number of gang crimes discussed separately below.
From the latest NYGS estimate provided by law enforcement agencies, there are approximately 30, gangs andgang members across the United States. Compared with the previous five-year average, the estimated number of gangs has increased 8 percent and the estimated number of gang members 11 percent.
Accounting for the largest share of these increases are larger cities—more than 50 percent of the net increase in gangs and gang members over the past five years was due to overall increases in larger cities.
The decline in gang prevalence rates across smaller cities and rural counties, coupled with increases in the number of gangs and gang members in densely populated areas especially larger citiessuggests that the gang problem is becoming more concentrated nationally in urban areas.
While local reports to the contrary are not uncommon, it must be remembered that these results are based on a nationally representative sample of all law enforcement agencies across the United States, which is the only appropriate method to assess nationwide changes in gang activity.
For more information, see: How are gang crimes, especially gang-related homicides, changing nationally? Simply put, assessing changes across a broad range of gang-related crimes is not possible on a national scale. The sole exception to this practice pertains to homicides, where most agencies report tracking the number of gang-related homicides.
Thus, at a national level, this is currently the only offense type for which data are available. However, significantly fewer agencies use the motive-based approach, so the following discussion uses the more encompassing member-based approach.
The most recent count in the NYGS finds that 2, homicides were determined to be gang-related nationally. In the preceding five years, the number of gang-related homicides ranged from approximately 1, to 2, per year, increasing over 20 percent to the most recent count.
Taken together, these findings suggest that gangs were involved in approximately 15 percent of all homicides, underscoring the considerable overlap between gang activity and violent crime. Further, the occurrence of gang homicides was highly concentrated in very large cities, with a small subset of these cities accounting for most of the net increase over previous years.
While these results must be interpreted cautiously, being necessarily reliant on one measure of the totality of gang-related crime, they do indicate a diverging trend from the overall national homicide rate. Despite this decrease, however, gang-related homicides across these same cities have either remained unchanged or, in some instances, increased such that the urban homicide problem has increasingly become a gang homicide problem.
What is the relationship between gang involvement and other serious and violent crime? Because of the commonly known and widespread limitations of officially recorded data on gang crime see FAQ number 5other data sources, such as self-report studies, are typically used to explore this issue.Gangs and Youth ViolenceTHE ROOTS OF URBAN GANGSFAMILY LIFE AND GANG MEMBERSHIPTHE GHETTOIZATION OF CHICANO AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN POPULATIONSNEWER IMMIGRANT POPULATIONSGANGS AS SOCIAL SUPPORTBIBLIOGRAPHY Source for information on Gangs and Youth Violence: Encyclopedia of Race and Racism dictionary.
“[Gangs in America's Communities] provides a good overview of street gangs in the United States. Its coverage is extensive on this topic in terms of the history of gangs in the United States, theoretical explanations for gang formation and gang involvement among individual youth.
Start studying Gangs CJUS Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Search. What contributed to the emergence of gangs in New York during the first period ( 's)?
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Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian gangs represent the bulk of the Asian criminal street gang problem in California.
It was not until the late s that Vietnamese gangs began to emerge, followed by Laotian and Cambodian gangs in the early I s. The localized nature of these types of cyclical patterns represents the primary explanation for gang crime and violence across the United States.
At any given point in time, every gang-problem city (and gang-problem neighborhood within larger cities) is at its own point in the cycle of gang violence.