Gang Delinquency Research Paper

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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…show more content…
Another possible answer comes from a facilitation model (Thornberry et al., 1993) in which the norms and the group processes within the gang encourage involvement in violence and other delinquency. If norms within gangs are favorable toward violence and delinquency, members would be expected to adhere to those norms and commit delinquent acts while they were a part of the group. "Once a person enters a group, reciprocal processes lead to further commonalties in activities, including deviant ones. There is a transmission of values and, for some networks, a contagion of social problems" (Cairns and Cairns, 1991:273). A third possibility is that both processes are in effect, operating in an enhancement model, as suggested by Cairns and Cairns (1991), Esbensen and Huizinga (1993), and Hill et al. (1996). Youths who exhibit aggressive behaviors are attracted to and recruited by gangs with similar norms regarding violence and aggression. The group processes and norms favorable to violence and other delinquency within the gangs subsequently encourage and reinforce participation in violent and delinquent behavior. Findings from these analyses lend support to the enhancement model. In the structural equation model, prior delinquency led to association with delinquent peers as well as to gang membership, suggesting a social selection model. However, association with delinquent peers and gang membership led to later delinquency, suggesting a facilitation model. Neither the social selection nor the facilitation model fully accounted for these results, suggesting that the enhancement model may be operating. However, additional research is needed concerning the levels of delinquency before, during, and after gang membership in order to assess the adequacy of the enhancement model as suggested by our findings. Given these findings on the importance of gang membership to delinquency,
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