Understanding youth gangs


This paper provides an overview of research into the complexity and diversity of youth gangs. The paper discusses the distinction between youth groups and youth gangs and the kinds of behaviour that gangs engage in, which are categorised as criminal, conflict, retreat or street culture. The paper also discusses the diversity of gang formations, problems in identifying gang members, and changes in gangs over time, including the key factors involved in gang disintegration. Given the diversity of youth gangs, policy and practice options need to be devised in relation to analysis of specific groups, incidents and situations.