The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Institute for Intergovernmental Research established the National Youth Gang Center (NYGC) in 1995 to conduct periodic national surveys to obtain comprehensive data on youth gang problems. The NYGC survey was designed to gather basic information and generate knowledge on the scope and nature of youth gangs.
The first NYGC survey was sent primarily to law enforcement member agencies of the Regional Information Sharing Systems projects, as well as police and sheriff’s departments reporting past youth gang problems and those departments never surveyed. Motorcycle gangs, hate or ideology groups, prison gangs, and adult gangs were excluded from the survey. Survey recipients were asked: (1) if youth gangs were active in 1995; (2) if youth gangs were active prior to 1995; (3) the number of youth gangs and youth gang members in 1995; (4) the number of youth gang members involved in homicides as offenders and as victims in 1995; (5) the types of personnel/units in place to deal with youth gangs; (6) an assessment of the current youth gang situation; and (7) an estimate of the probability of future problems. Survey results showed that all States and most large cities have youth gangs, that gangs are beginning to appear in smaller cities and rural counties, and the numbers of youth gangs and gang members are higher than previously estimated. The 1996 survey collected similar data, in addition to information on criminal activities and ethnicity. Sources other than law enforcement agencies were queried. Annual data collection will enable comparisons to be made of changes and trends.
Date Published: April 1, 1997