Gang Prevention

Gang Involvement Prevention

Preventing youth involvement in gangs is an important issue. Compared to non-gang members, gang members commit a disproportionate amount of violent crimes and offenses across the country. Gangs and gang involvement result in short- and long-term negative outcomes for gang-involved youth, their friends and families, and the surrounding communities.1 Gangs are typically defined as groups having the following characteristics:

  • Formal organizational structure
  • Identifiable leadership
  • Identified territory
  • Recurrent interaction
  • Involvement in serious or violent behavior2

In an effort to replace older adult gang members who are incarcerated, gangs often try to recruit youth.3 Youth often succumb to these efforts at early ages because of their vulnerability and susceptibility to recruitment tactics.4  As a result, it is necessary to begin prevention efforts at a young age, identify risk and protective factors for gang involvement, and utilize a comprehensive approach that involves multiple sectors and disciplines working together (e.g., justice, education, labor, social services, public health and safety, businesses, philanthropic organizations, faith-based organizations, and other youth, family, and community-serving groups).5

1 Howell, 1998
2 Howell, 1994
3 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 2011
4 FBI, 2011
5 National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, 2011

National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention (NFYVP)

The Forum models a new kind of federal/local collaboration, encouraging its members to change the way they do business by sharing common challenges and promising strategies, and through coordinated action.

Forum on Youth Violence Prevention

2015

Issue 28 (PDF, 3 pages) — June 2015, Volume 5, Number 6

  • Long Beach Seeks Peer-Sharing Opportunities
  • Alive and Free in Seattle
  • Faith Communities Come Together in Violence Prevention

Issue 27 (PDF, 2 pages) — May 2015, Volume 5, Number 5

Memphis Fast Forward

The City of Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee have developed three interwoven violence prevention initiatives—Operation: Safe Community, the Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Plan, and the Defending Childhood Initiative.

Key components that support the structure of these initiatives include

Violence Prevention

Youth violence and crime affect a community's economic health, as well as individuals' physical and mental health and well-being. Homicide is the third leading cause of death for youth in our country. In 2012, more than 630,000 young people ages 10-24 were treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained from violence. 1

Each neighborhood and community has unique experiences with violence and different resources available to them. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to preventing youth violence. However, communities can help reduce youth violence by developing a city-wide strategy that combines prevention, intervention, treatment, and re-entry strategies. The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention is working with communities to design these strategies. 

Learn More about the National Forum

 

Youth Gangs and Schools

Few schools escape dynamics and behaviors that are associated with gangs. Think, for example, about bullying, disruptive intergroup conflicts, drug sales and abuse, and vandalism such as theft, graffiti, and other forms of property damage. From both a policy and practice perspective, it is essential for schools to understand and address gang-related problems that interfere with productive schooling. Fortunately, there are many useful resources on the topic