Gang Membership and Trajectories Essay

Gang Membership and Trajectories Essay

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In the United States gang membership has exploded over the last twenty years. According to 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, there are approximately 1.4 million gang members, and they account for 48% of all violent crimes and an increase of non-violent crimes nationwide (Wong, Tohn, Hung & Ang, 2013). Participation within a gang increases the likelihood of delinquent behavior and could produce negative effects on future life trajectories. Several theories at present consider antisocial attitudes an underlying factor towards gang membership. Risk factors such as peer association and family have an underlying effect on whether an adolescent becomes a member of a gang. Peers may provide negative influences, including antisocial views and aggressiveness that encourages delinquent behavior if not previously present (Howell & Egley, 2005). Additionally, gangs are no longer thought of as requiring lifelong membership as adolescents frequently transition out of them after one or two years (Howell & Egley, 2005). Transitions are important because they signal that an individual is altering his or her trajectory. Elder (1997) stated that trajectories are age-graded patterns of development with respect to major social institutions such as family, school and work that link “social and psychological states over a substantial portion of the life course” (as cited in Krohn, Ward, Thornberry, Lizotte & Chu, 2011). Numerous risk factors play a significant part in the development of future trajectories.
Risk factors for gang membership have been identified at five major levels: individual, family, school, peers and community. For example, at the individual level early onset of delinquency and antisocial behavior among pre-adolescents could be a...


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...Lizotte, A. J., & Chu, R. (2011, November). The cascading effects of adolescent gang involvement across the life course. Criminology, 49(4), 991-1028. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9125.2011.00250.x
Melde, C., & Esbensen, F. (2011, May 25). Gang membership as a turning point in the life course. Criminology, 49(2), 513-552. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9125.2011.00227.x
Melde, C., & Esbensen, F. (2014, May). The relative impact of gang status transitions: Identifying the mechanism of change in delinquency. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 4(2), 349-376. doi:10.1177/0022427813507059
Pyrooz, D. C., Sweeten, G., & Piquero, A. R. (2013). Continuity and change in gang membership and gang embeddedness.Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 50(2), 239-271. doi: 10.1177/0022427811434830
Sweeten, G., Pyrooz, D. C., & Piquero, A. R. (2013). Disengaging from gangs and desistance

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