The relationship between gang membership and risk factors in a sample of youth gang members and leavers

SALLY-ANN ASHTON, Maria Ioannou, Laura Hammond

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Objectives
To investigate psychological and attitudinal risk factors in a sample of current and former youth gang members.

Design
Most youth gang interventions work on the premise that membership is a causal factor in offending. The present research focused on the individual and investigated whether there were significant differences between static and dynamic risk factors of current and former youth gang members.

Methods
Using data from the Pathways to Desistence Study, the self-reported offending of a sample of 175 adjudicated youth gang members with a mean age of 16.02 years at the baseline were investigated over a period of seven years, creating eleven waves of data. For inclusion in the present study participants fulfilled the criterion of being a self-identifying gang member at the time of the baseline interview. A new variable of gang member or leaver was then created for each of the ten waves of data subsequent to the baseline, and a series of independent sample t-tests were undertaken in order to investigate the offending behaviour for each group.

Results
Gang members scored significantly higher for psychopathic traits, antisocial personality, moral disengagement, legal cynicism, and the personal and social rewards of crime. They also scored significantly higher of measures of ethnic identity and consideration of others. Gang leavers scored significantly higher for psychosocial maturity, socio-emotional development, procedural justice and future outlook.

Conclusions
The findings suggest that future interventions should consider utilising psychological and attitudinal measures, rather than gang membership per se, to assess an individual’s risk of recidivism.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2017
EventBritish Psychological Society Division of Forensic Psychology - Bristol, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jun 201715 Jun 2017

Conference

ConferenceBritish Psychological Society Division of Forensic Psychology
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityBristol
Period13/06/1715/06/17

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    ASHTON, SALLY-ANN., Ioannou, M., & Hammond, L. (Accepted/In press). The relationship between gang membership and risk factors in a sample of youth gang members and leavers. Paper presented at British Psychological Society Division of Forensic Psychology , Bristol, United Kingdom.