Youth Gangs


gang, group of people organized for a common purpose, often criminal. Gangs of criminals were long known on the American frontier and also flourished in urban settings. Notorious were the outlaws led by Jesse James and his brother, the Sydney Ducks of San Francisco (active in the 1850s), and the Hudson Dusters of turn-of-the-century New York City. Modern criminal gangs are largely urban and highly organized (see organized crime). Adolescent gangs before World War II were generally poverty-area recreational groups that turned to crime under the influence of adult gangs. Often the groups were rehabilitated through recreational leadership and guidance in community centers. In the late 1940s fighting gangs arose in the poverty areas of most large cities. Uniting to seek security and status in a discouraging environment, the young members divide their neighborhoods into rival territories and amass homemade and stolen weapons. Boundary violations or other insults invite intergang fights in streets or parks. Most fighting gangs are organized intricately, with caste systems and with officers who arrange battles and prepare strategy; the gang may range in size from several members to over 100. Factors related to the development of delinquent gangs include blighted communities, dropping out of school, unemployment, family disorganization, neighborhood traditions of gang delinquency, psychopathology, and ethnic status. Gangs provide acceptance and protection to inner-city youth; in Los Angeles gangs doubled from 400 in 1985 to 800 (with 90,000 members) in 1990. See also juvenile delinquency.

See L. Yablonsky, The Violent Gang (1962, repr. 1970); M. W. Klein and B. G. Myerhoff, Juvenile Gangs in Context (1967); J. F. Short, ed., Gang Delinquency and Delinquent Subcultures (1968); E. Liebow, Talley's Corner (1968); J. Haskins, Street Gangs: Yesterday and Today (1977); W. F. Whyte, Streetcorner Society (1981); A. Campbell, Girls in the Gang (1984); E. Dolan, Youth Gangs (1984); L. Bing, Do or Die (1991).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Youth Gangs: Selected full-text books and articles

Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership
Thomas R. Simon; Nancy M. Ritter; Reshma R. Mahendra.
United States. Justice. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (U.S.)., 2013
Gangs: A Reference Handbook
Karen L. Kinnear.
ABC-Clio, 2009 (2nd edition)
Teen Gangs: A Global View
Maureen P. Duffy; Scott Edward Gillig.
Greenwood Press, 2004
Gangs and Delinquency in Developmental Perspective
Terence P. Thornberry; Marvin D. Krohn; Alan J. Lizotte; Carolyn A. Smith; Kimberly Tobin.
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Juvenile Arrest in America: Race, Social Class, and Gang Membership
Mike Tapia.
LFB Scholarly, 2012
Gangs and Society: Alternative Perspectives
Louis Kontos; David Brotherton; L. I. Barrios.
Columbia University Press, 2003
Manufacturing the Gang: Mexican American Youth Gangs on Local Television News
Raúl Damacio Tovares.
Greenwood Press, 2002
A Comparison between Mexican American Youth Who Are in Gangs and Those Who Are Not
Tapia, Hugo A.; Kinnier, Richard T.; MacKinnon, David P.
Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, Vol. 37, No. 4, October 2009
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Meaning and Gendered Culture of Getting High: Gang Girls and Drug Use Issues
Hunt, Geoffrey P.; Joe-Laidler, Karen; Evans, Kristy.
Contemporary Drug Problems, Vol. 29, No. 2, Summer 2002
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Girls in Gangs: On the Rise in America
Eghigian, Mars; Kirby, Katherine.
Corrections Today, Vol. 68, No. 2, April 2006
School Strategies to Deal with Gangs
White, Rob.
Australian Institute of Criminology, 2002
The Relationship of Gang Membership to Self-Esteem, Family Relations, and Learning Disabilities
Florian-Lacy, Dorothy J.; Jefferson, Joseph L.; Fleming, Jacqueline.
TCA Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, Spring 2002
Winning the War against Youth Gangs: A Guide for Teens, Families, and Communities
Valerie Wiener.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Youth Crisis: Growing Up in the High-Risk Society
Nanette J. Davis.
Praeger, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "The Gang as Pseudo Community"
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