This article, "Improving Understanding of and Responsiveness to Gang-Involved Girls," reports on a study by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) intended to gain a better understanding of the experiences of gang-involved girls, including reasons for joining and leaving a gang, their role in gangs, and strategies for desistance, so as to assist in guiding practitioners, programming, and policy related to gang-involved girls.
The two phases of data collection involved interviews with key stakeholders, including outreach workers and former gang members, as well as individual interviews with gang-involved girls. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analyzed. This article summarizes selected key findings from interviews with gang-involved girls, followed by recommendations for service providers and others who want to help gang-involved girls. Interviews were conducted with 114 girls and young women in eight California cities; they ranged in age from 14 to 25 years old. Details are provided on their demographics. Seventy-one percent had been arrested at some point in their lives; 49 percent had been on probation; and 51 percent had been in detention or placement. Most had family members who had been arrested and at least one gang-involved family member. The girls' reasons for joining gangs included family members being in gangs, neighborhood gang patterns, and peer influences. For girls who said they had a specific role in their gang, the most common response was having an auxiliary position, which included "being loyal" and "doing what you're told." Another main role was "being a fighter," which included disciplining other girls in the gang or confronting girls from rival gangs. Some had a leadership role that involved being in charge of other girls in the gang. Leaving a gang was a gradual process that involved preferring a better lifestyle. Recommendations are offered based on the findings.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
810 Seventh Street NW, Washington, DC 20531, United States
Institute for Intergovernmental Research
P.O. Box 12729, Tallahassee, FL 32317, United States
Report (Technical Assistance)
Report (Grant Sponsored)
United States of America