Gang involvement

Gifford-Smith et al (2005) also examines delinquency amongst children and adolescents who have been in gangs versus those who have never been in gangs. This study acknowledges that delinquency is higher in adolescents who are members of a gang and the trend is mainly a factor of peer pressure. This is so because it has been observed that one member’s involvement in a deviant behavior is likely to lead others to engage in a deviant behavior. It is also notable that being exposed to deviant peers such as gangs not only increases the likelihood of engaging in delinquent behaviors but it also increases the range of the delinquent behaviors.

As such, a member of a deviant peer such as gang may be involved in drugs, violent behaviors, and high-risk sexual encounters and at an early age and secretive antisocial behavior. This is in comparison with persons who are affiliated with a family or a school. From this study, it is also evident that an individual who was initially delinquent becomes more delinquent once they are members to a delinquent peer group whereas those who have never involved in delinquent acts start deviant behaviors. Furthermore, the magnitude of delinquency increases as individuals interact more with the members of the deviant peer group (Krohn et al, 2009).

Gang involvement has some differences in its influence on a deviant peer than belonging to any group whether a delinquent or non-delinquent peer group. This is because the delinquent behaviors developed in individuals in gangs are more serious mainly being criminal activities. Gifford-Smith et al (2005) says that a gang culture has the capacity to influence individual behavior in ways that are beyond the influence of the individual. This is an indication that individual’s behavior is definitely influenced by a gang whether they already had an antisocial behavior or not.

Battin-Pearson et al (1998) report higher offence rates among gang members than in non-gang members based on individual offence rate (IOR). The report identifies substance use and delinquency as measures of offending to be highest among gang members and lowest non-gang members who are non-delinquent. Delinquent youths who are not gang members have relatively higher offending rates but not as high as gang members. Gang members have significantly higher rates of involvement in violent offending behaviors, non violent behaviors as well as general offending behaviors.

Some of the violent behaviors especially among youths include using force against others, assault, sex offense, possession and use of a weapon. Huff (1998) also asserts that gang membership has a tendency to increase criminal behavior in individuals. Huff reports a higher rate of criminal activities among individual gang members than in at-risk individuals. For instance, cases of individual gang members being involved in car theft were markedly higher than among at-risk individuals. Similar trends were identified when considering more violent crimes such as homicide, possession and use of guns in crime and selling of drugs.