Characteristics of Gang Membership

Topics: Gang, Crime, Criminology Pages: 4 (1237 words) Published: December 9, 2013
Anyone can become a gang member. Gang members come from every social class, can be of both genders, and of most ethnic or religious groups. They can also be found in the most unexpected places. According to The National Gang Center, in the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the racial ethnic differences in the proportion of who joined gangs were not as large as previous research had suggested. About 12 percent of Hispanic and black youth, respectively, reported having joined a gang by age 17, versus 7 percent of white youth1. As stated by law enforcement agencies in the 2007 NYGS, approximately half (49 percent) of all documented gang members are Hispanic/Latino, 35 percent are African American/Black, and 9 percent are Caucasian/White (National Youth Gang Center, 2009, see Race/Ethnicity of Gang Members)1. However, the racial make-up of gangs differs substantially by locality. For example, Caucasians make up the lowest number of gang members in urban areas (8 percent) but are markedly higher in other areas, including rural counties (17 percent), where the rate is more than twice as high (National Youth Gang Center, 2009, see Race/Ethnicity of Gang Members by Area Type). “In short, the demographic composition of gangs is an extension of the social and economic characteristics of the larger community.” A close look at the results, broken down into four age-related populations of gang membership may be found by comparing 1996 and 1998 National Youth Gang Surveys. The results show the aging of youth gangs. In 1996, youths between 15 and 17 years of age comprised 34 percent of gang membership; by 1998 that number had dropped to 29 percent. In comparison, in 1996 the members between 18 and 24 years of age comprised 37 percent, but by 1998 their number had risen to 46 percent. The over 24 years of age group increased by only one percent during that time: from 13 percent to 14 percent. The under 15 years of age group decreased by 5 percent from 34 percent to 29...
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