Online Program

Confronting sexual violence among female youth gang members

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 11:10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Cliff Akiyama, MA, MPH, CGS, CGP, Department of Forensic Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
Youth gangs throughout the US continue to rise as well as terrorize the neighborhoods that they claim as their own. Often overlooked in gangs is the pervasive bondage of intimate partner violence among female youth gang members. Over 80% of all female youth gang members are “sexed in,” which is an initiation tactic of getting into a gang. Getting “sexed in” the gang means that the prospective female gang member has to have sexual intercourse with all of the male gang members in that particular gang set. Moreover, the author found that 23% of the female gang members have a history of child sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. Unfortunately, female gang members are the least likely to report rape victimization. Of the female gang members that are physically or sexually abused, 97% have never utilized any rape or physical abuse services such as a rape crisis center or shelter within their communities, while 30% of them not even knowing about the services available to them to begin with. With the technical assistance of Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR), a Philadelphia rape crisis center, this study identified 12 distinct barriers to disclosure and service utilization of female youth gang members who experience intimate partner violence across the lifespan (i.e.: immigration issues, racism, depression, anxiety, fear, shame, isolation, age, lack of health insurance, lack of child care, lack of affordable housing, lack of independent income, lack of support from the family/community, and just not knowing the available resources surrounding intimate partner violence).

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the signs and symptoms of intimate partner violence in the female youth gang population. Explain some of the barriers to getting help and most importantly know where to turn to for assistance if they suspect intimate partner violence in the female youth gang population. Analyze some novel prevention/intervention programs that have worked in the community to help stop this problem before it's too late.

Keyword(s): Youth Violence, Family Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 17 years of first-hand experience working with youth gangs and survivors of intimate partner violence as a researcher, academician, and law enforcement officer. I am a former Deputy Sheriff with the LA County Sheriff’s Department where I worked in the gang unit. Currently, I am a certified sexual assault counselor and Assistant Professor of Forensic Medicine at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine where I continue my research in this area.
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.