THE CONTRIBUTION OF GANG MEMBERSHIP TO DELINQUENCY BEYOND DELINQUENT FRIENDS*
SARA R. BATTIN KARL G. HILL ROBERT D. ABBOTT RICHARD F. CATALANO J. DAVID HAWKINS University of Washington
Both being involved in a gang and having friends who are delinquent have been shown to contribute to an individual's own delinquency. However, the unique contribution of gang membership to delinquency, above and beyond having delinquent peers, has not been well studied. Increased delinquency among gang members may not be due to gang membership per se, but to the members' association with delinquent peers. Using data from the Seattle Social Development Project, this research compared involvement in delinquency for gang members, nongahg youths with delinquent friends, and nongang youths who did not have delinquent friends. MANOVA and follow-up ANOVA were conducted to determine differences on measures of delinquency among the three groups at ages 14 and 15. Gang members were found to have a higher rate of offending in the past year when compared with the other groups. The contribution of gang membership to delinquency above and beyond having delinquent friends was also examined using structural equation modeling. Gang membership was found to independently predict both self-reported and officially recorded delinquency beyond the effects of having delinquent friends and prior delinquency. Implications of the results for delinquency prevention and intervention efforts are discussed. Existing evidence suggests that gang membership intensifies delinquent behavior. It is also clear that having delinquent friends contributes to one's own delinquency. Increased delinquency among gang members may in fact be due to these associations with delinquent peers, rather than to
* This research was supported by research grant No. 21548 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and grant No. 1RO1DA09679 from the National Institute on...