The Road to Gang Membership: Characteristics of Male Gang and Nongang Members from Ages 10 to 14


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Abstract

This study examined the stability of belonging to a gang in early adolescence, the behaviour profiles, family characteristics, and friendships of nongang and gang members. The subjects in the present study were originally part of a larger sample of boys. One hundred and forty-two boys who had a complete data set at ages 11, 12, 13, and 14 were selected for the present study. Loglinear analyses indicated that gang membership was stable from ages 13 to 14, but not at earlier ages. Boys were divided into three groups: stable gang members (children who belonged to a gang at ages 13 and 14); unstable gang members (children who belonged to a gang at either age 13 or 14) and nongang members. Repeated analyses of variance indicated that stable gang members had significantly higher scores than nongang members on teacher ratings of fighting behaviour, hyperactivity, inattention and oppositional behaviour, and self-reported delinquent activities (drug and alcohol use, stealing and vandalism). Peers rated gang members as more aggressive than nongang members. The results are discussed from a developmental perspective.

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