Early life and social factors associated gang involvement among street-involved youth: A gender-based analysis
Monday, November 4, 2013
: 1:32 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.
Elucidating the early life and social determinants that increase the risk for gang affiliation among high-risk youth could have important implications for public health and safety efforts seeking to reduce gang violence and other health problems. We examined the relationship between self-reported gang involvement, early childhood traumatic experiences and social factors in a study of drug-using street-involved youth in Vancouver, Canada. Among 438 eligible participants, the mean age was 22, 77 (22.4%) were of Aboriginal ancestry and 125 (36.7%) were female. A total of 94 (21.5%) reported a lifetime history of gang involvement and 206 (48.1%) reported having friends involved in a gang. In gender-stratified log-binomial models, males involved in gangs were more likely to be of Aboriginal ancestry (prevalence ratio [PR] = 1.63, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.092.44), have grown up in an orphanage or foster home (PR = 2.03, 95%CI: 1.323.12), been diagnosed with a mental illness (PR = 2.58, 95%CI: 1.185.66), dealt drugs (PR = 2.52, 95%CI: 1.663.85) and been incarcerated (PR = 1.40, 95%CI: 1.292.80). Women involved in gangs were more likely to have reported a history of childhood sexual abuse (PR = 3.08, 95%CI: 1.158.27). These results suggest that a variety of adverse experiences in early life are associated with a subsequent increased risk of gang affiliation among youth who are street-involved. Primary prevention strategies aiming to avert gang initiation among high-risk youth should seek to address mental health issues, childhood abuse, and other traumatic experiences that are commonly experienced by this population.
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Describe the prevalence and correlates of gang involvement among a sample of Canadian street-involved youth
Discuss evidence-based primary prevention interventions to avert gang initiation among high-risk youth
Keyword(s): Youth, Urban Health
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Assistant Professor in the Department Epidemiology at Brown University. I received a PhD in epidemiology from the University of British Columbia in 2011, and completed postdoctoral training in the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. My research interests focus on substance use epidemiology and the social, environmental, and structural determinants of health among drug-using populations.
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.