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Reaffirming Prevention: Report of the Task Force on Juvenile Gangs

NCJ Number
Date Published
Following a review of the definition of "gang," this report of the New York State Task Force on Juvenile Gangs describes gang demographics in various New York cities, considers the philosophical foundations for preventing juvenile gangs, and presents program and strategic recommendations.
The task force defines "gang" as "an ongoing identifiable group of adolescents (highly organized or loosely structured) which has engaged in or is considered likely to engage in unlawful or antisocial activity either individually or collectively which may be verified by police records or other reliable sources and who create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation within the community." The demographic profiles of gangs (number and characteristics of gang members) cover New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Mt. Vernon, and "other cities and counties." The task force's philosophical perspective is that youth-gang formation and membership stems from youths' inadequate access to such central youth development resources as health-promoting services, supportive family and community networks, adequate education, and constructive recreation as well as the debilitating consequences of racism, poverty, and alienation from the mainstream culture. Program recommendations are based on a major survey by the task force designed to identify high-quality intervention programs for youth at risk of gang membership. Twenty such programs are described. Strategic recommendations focus on prevention, prosocial youth activities, comprehensive efforts, coordination, school-based and community-based efforts, youth input, prescriptiveness, staff training, program integrity and intensity, constructive gang functions, and evaluation. 8 references