Gangs Research Paper

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Motivations for gang involvement may include any number of the following (as described in Dunbar, 2016): It is important to highlight that individuals join gangs for a variety of reasons, and these are not exclusive of one another.

The decision to join is often well thought out and the individual believes that this is best for their interests at the moment (Sánchez-Jankowski, 2003).

In its most basic form, it is a group of young people who act out in antisocial or delinquent ways and/or is based on involvement in some form of criminal activity usually in an effort to gain from it as a group, whether financially, socially or territorially (Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science and Justice Studies, 2015).

While there are similarities in the basic causes and processes of gang formation that characterize gang membership across Canada, the specific form the group takes depends in part on the region of the country in which it is located (Grekul & La Boucane-Benson, 2008).

This publication also highlights information on specific risk factors, pathways to involvement and desistance, and guidance on prevention and intervention efforts for these groups.

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Finally, some key findings to date and recommendations for moving forward are provided based on empirical evidence and lessons learned from Public Safety Canada's past implementation and evaluation experiences with youth gang projects.Public Safety Canada is committed to developing and disseminating knowledge to address the issue of youth gangs in Canada.To implement effective prevention and intervention strategies, we must start by understanding the nature and scope of the problem.The majority of the theoretical knowledge and empirical work on youth gangs has come from the United States.Although there are advantages in learning from the American experience, there is a danger in assuming that the cause(s) and structure of gangs are the same in the United States and in Canada.So, while researchers, evaluators and practitioners in the area may need to define 'youth gang', it is also important to be aware of the possible consequences that a definition or label can have on the youth with whom they study or work.Much of the research literature suggests that gang affiliation often provides psychological, social and/or economic benefits, and that those who become involved with gangs do so to meet unfulfilled needs (Chettleburgh, 2007; Wortley & Tanner, 2006).No matter what criteria are employed, caution should be taken when defining a youth gang and gang involvement.There are risks associated with classification, namely stereotyping and maltreatment that may occur once a youth is identified as a 'gang member' (Henry, 2009).While a precise measure of youth gang involvement and prevalence of their activities in Canada is not currently available, in the last number of years strides have been made in understanding affiliation among several key populations, namely Aboriginal youth, immigrant youth and young women.Greater insight into specific risk factors, pathways to involvement and desistance, and guidance for prevention and intervention efforts can assist in the future development of solutions to address youth gang involvement and gang-related activities in Canada.


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