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Causal Relationship Between Gang Joining and Violent Victimization: A Critical Review and Directions for Future Research

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 40 Issue: 6 Dated: November/December 2012 Pages: 490-501
Chris L. Gibson; Marc L. Swatt; J. Mitchell Miller; Wesley G. Jennings; Angela R. Gover
Date Published
December 2012
12 pages
This article presents the results of a review of research studies examining the relationship between violent victimization and gang membership.
This literature review identified various theoretical, conceptual, methodological, and statistical issues that should be taken into consideration when researchers interpret study results indicating a causal effect between gang membership and violent victimizations. The review found that few of the studies were constructed to allow for the examination of the causal effect of gang joining on subsequent violent victimization. Some of the areas identified in the review included consequences of failing to establish temporal order, failure to conduct sensitivity analyses to determine treatment effects, the measurement of violent victimization, and the inclusion of improper covariates measured at the same time that may conflate treatment effects. Recommendations for changing research design to more effectively measure the causal effect of gang membership on subsequent violent victimization include paying attention to the fluidity of gang membership over time; the importance of longitudinal data for understanding how gang membership affects violent victimization for those on different trajectories of risk; the use of certain statistical methodologies; and sampling decisions made by the researchers. Suggestions for future research are discussed. Table, appendix, notes, and references


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