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Understanding the Relationship Between Violent Victimization and Gang Membership

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 39 Issue: 1 Dated: January/February 2011 Pages: 48-59
Charles M. Katz; Vincent J. Webb; Kate Fox; Jennifer N. Shaffer
Date Published
February 2011
12 pages
This study examined the relationship between gang membership and violent victimization among a group of juvenile offenders.
Analysis of the data found that 51.2 percent of the sample had some form of prior or current involvement with gangs, and that sex, ethnicity, education, and the presence of rival gangs in ones' neighborhood were significantly related to gang status. The analysis also found that 77.2 percent of the sample had reported ever being victimized, and that almost 25 percent had been victimized within the past 30 days. Examination of lifetime victimization found that current gang members were more likely to report ever having been the victim of a violent crime (97.8 percent), followed by past gang members (92.3 percent), gang associates (79.9 percent), and non-gang members (67.1 percent). Data for this study were obtained from a interviews with 909 recently booked juvenile arrestees in Arizona. The juveniles were interviewed as part of the Arizona Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program. The study explored three hypotheses: was gang involvement and other risky lifestyles related to violent victimization; was involvement in gang crime associated with violent victimization; and was the presence of rival gangs associated with violent victimization. The study results indicate that the prevalence of violent victimization was highest among current gang members, but that gang membership did not significantly influence the juveniles' risk for serious violent victimization. These findings support prior research that suggests that offending behaviors increase the risk of victimization, not gang membership alone. Tables, notes, and references


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