228434 Serving gang-involved Latino youth: Strengths and service gaps for a community violence prevention plan

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

René Olate, PhD, Assistant Professor , Graduate School of Social Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Christopher Salas-Wright, PhD Student , Graduate School of Social Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Michael Vaughn, PhD, Assistant Professor , School of Social Work - School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
Youth gang violence in Latino communities is associated with injury, loss of life, risky health behaviors, and considerable economic costs. This problem is not only important in Latino communities in the US but also in Central American countries, especially El Salvador. Increased scientific evidence about high risk youth and youth Latino gang members is needed to create more effective community violence prevention programs. This paper presents preliminary evidence from an ongoing study, the Comparative Latino Youth Gang Project, which is comprised of a sample of 205 high risk youth and Latino gang members in San Salvador and 367 in Boston. This paper examined an array of protective and risk factors across these sites. Three scales were used to assess protective factors: readiness to change, empathy, and social support. Five scales were employed to assess risk factors: risky sexual behavior, level of gang involvement, physical aggression, and general and official delinquency. Chi-square proportional tests, Independent sample t-tests, and nonparametric tests of association and accompanying effect sizes were computed to assess similarities and differences across study sites. Research findings indicated higher levels of risks and fewer protective mechanisms for gang-involved youth generally and Salvadorian youth in particular. This study serves to substantiate the importance of developing effective violence prevention programs for Latino youth in the US and abroad.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss comparative evidence about risk and protective factors from high risk Latino youth and youth gang members in San Salvador and Boston. Identify critical components for a community violence prevention program based on empirical data from Latino youth in San Salvador and Boston. Analyze evidence about the vulnerabilities of youth involved in gangs in an effort to promote social justice and foster a greater understanding of youth gangs as a complex phenomenon.

Keywords: Violence Prevention, Latino Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I assess and evaluate programs such as violence prevention, substance abuse prevention, and treatment programs.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.