Racial and Ethnic Specific Strategies of the U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies In Fighting and Controlling Youth Gangs

The terms youth gang and street gang are often used interchangeably, but use of the latter label can result in the confusion of youth gangs with adult criminal organizations. A youth gang is commonly thought of as a self-formed association of peers having the following characteristics: three or more members, generally ages 12 to 24; a name and some sense of identity, generally indicated by such symbols as style of clothing, graffiti, and hand signs; some degree of permanence and organization; and an elevated level of involvement in delinquent or criminal activity (Howell & Egley 2005). The number of cities and counties experiencing youth gang problems increased substantially between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. Based on the 2002 National Youth Gang Survey (NYGS) results, it is estimated that youth gangs were active in more than 2,300 cities with a population of 2,500 or more and in more than 550 jurisdictions served by county law enforcement agencies (qtd. from Howell & Egley 2005).
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