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School Transitions as a Turning Point for Gang Status

NCJ Number
Journal of Crime & Justice Volume: 40 Issue: 4 Dated: 2017 Pages: 396-416
Date Published
21 pages
This study drew on life course perspectives to examine the impact of a specific life transition that is common during adolescence, school transitions, on a youth's gang status, as well as variables associated with a turning point in the life course.

The study of gangs corresponds well with life course perspectives of crime as the onset, persistence, and desistance from crime parallel the stages of gang membership. This literature commonly draws on turning points to explain the onset and desistance from criminal behavior, which are often synonymous with life transitions such as marriage, military duty, employment -even gang membership itself. The current study focused on two competing relationships that school mobility can serve as the impetus for joining a gang, or alternatively, act as a 'hook for change' and facilitate gang leaving. The study used a mixed-methods approach by first drawing on qualitative data that examined desisted gang members and their interpretation of their school transition experiences. Second, consistent with a grounded theory approach, the study examined these relationships quantitatively, using a panel study of youth followed over a 5-year period. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2017