Blog: Gangs

Call for Papers on Youth Gangs, Adolescent Development

Calling all researchers!
The Journal of Research on Adolescence (JRA) is seeking submissions for a special section called, "Youth Gangs and Adolescent Development: New Findings, New Challenges, and New Directions." From the announcement:

The wealth of data on youth gangs available from law enforcement and juvenile justice research is particularly striking in comparison to the relatively small empirical and theoretical developmental literature on youth gangs. Indeed, despite the vast literature on the development of aggressive and antisocial behavior more generally, only a handful of published studies have addressed critical developmental issues on youth gang involvement. For example, we know that gang membership is linked to elevated involvement in violent behavior as well as violent victimization; that joining a gang accelerates entry in delinquent behavior; and that gang involvement is linked to a number of factors in the peer, neighborhood, and family environments. But much remains to be explored, especially with respect to how developmental theory on adolescence can inform our understanding of the personal and contextual determinants and consequences of gang involvement. Among the key questions in need of attention are:
For youth at general risk for aggression and delinquency, what specific factors lead youth to join gangs or avoid joining gangs?
What dispositional or contextual dynamics account for youths’ sustained involvement in gang activity or desistance from gang activity?
What are the positive developmental functions of gang involvement, particularly with respect to theory and research on normative developmental tasks of adolescence?
What are the relations between gang involvement and other indicators of adolescent problem behavior such as substance use, risky sexual behavior, and academic adjustment?
What are the optimal methods for studying youth gangs from a developmental perspective, taking into account typical challenges or barriers to valid inquiry on this topic?