Gang Membership: Risk Factors for Joining and Effects on Offending Trajectories

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Risk factors for gang membership have been identified at five major levels: individual, family, school, peers and community (Howell & Egley, 2005). For example, at the individual level early onset of delinquency and antisocial behavior among pre-adolescents could be an indication of future criminality (Moffitt, 1993). Risk factors within peer association can have an effect on whether an adolescent becomes a member of a gang. These peers may provide antisocial views, aggressive influences and possibly induce delinquent behavior if not previously present. Lastly, community environment has an effect on adolescents, especially in high-crime areas where drugs, violence associated with weapons and disorganization are prominent (Howell & Egley,…show more content…
Coleman (1998) stated “social capital is productive, making possible the achievements of certain ends that in its absence would not be possible” (as cited in Laub & Sampson, 1993, p. 310). This holds accurate with Laub and Sampson (1993) postulating that to become desistance from criminal activities as an adult, it would require knifing off from delinquency, antisocial behaviors and associations. Additionally, offenders would need to create social bonds during adulthood through marriage or employment. Furthermore, impediments social capital can induce premature transitions of trajectories according to Laub and Sampson (1993).
Gang membership. When adolescents join a gang, the social bonds of conventional society are disrupted, thus potentially changing future trajectories. Gangs typically produce an increase in delinquent behavior during membership, as a result “delinquency is indirectly related to future offending because it leads to school failure, incarceration, and weak bonds, which likely lead to further adult crime (Piquero, 2011, p. 765). Additionally, human and social capital are not properly instilled within the adolescents because a lack of prosocial associations. Thus, future trajectories can be affected even after exiting the gang if he or she remains in similar social worlds. “Experiences learned and reinforced through gang membership may continue to affect social interactions after adolescents no longer consider themselves gang
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