Gangs are nothing new to American society, what is new and disturbing is the recent spike in juvenile crimes with reported ties to certain gangs. Youth gangs have been prevalent in schools in large cities since the 1970's. However, they have become even more prevalent in schools in the recent past. In the student survey component of the 1995 National Crime Victimization Survey, more than one third (37%) of the students reported gangs at their schools and the percentage of students reporting the presence of gangs at their schools nearly doubled between 1989 and 1995, and then decreased in 1999, according to a more conservative measure.
About two thirds of the surveyed students reported that gangs at school were involved in one or more of three types of illegal activity, violence, drug sales, or gun carrying. However, just 8% of the students said gangs were involved in all three types of activity. About one in five students (21%) said gangs were involved in two of the three illegal activities, and 40% of the students said gangs were involved in only one of these three types of activity. Thus, only a small fraction of the surveyed students said gangs were highly active in all three types of serious crimes. Thus it is very important for school officials, working in collaboration with law enforcement and others in the community, to assess the extent of gang involvement in criminal activity, so that resources can be targeted on the most criminally active and disruptive gangs.
Gangs contribute significantly to student victimization at school, including having things taken from them by force, having something stolen from them, and being physically attacked. The presence of gangs more than doubles the likelihood of violent victimization at school. Yet it is not clear that gangs are a direct cause of criminal victimization at school. Both gangs and criminal victimization in schools are products of such other factors as disorder in schools, and a host of other risk...
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