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Saturday 21 April 2018

Youth Gang Membership: An Investigation of Young People Joining and Leaving Gangs

Daniel S Hounslea


Youth gangs pose a considerable problem to contemporary society; a notion which is substantiated by the government who have invested £4m from 2011-2013 in an attempt to tackle the issue. Research into why young people engage and desist from gang activity has been sparse, suggesting that further research into the topic is necessary in order to prevent and deter young people from engaging in gang activity. The main aim of this research is to examine the central research question:

‘Why do young people get involved and desist from gang activity?’

This research explores some of the key factors which are influential in young people joining and leaving gangs, in order to attempt to outline areas where effective interventions could be implemented.


A qualitative cross-sectional research design is complimented by the use of semi-structured interviews and a purposive sampling framework, whilst youth offending management staff comprises the participants. The key themes discussed were education & employment, gender, family, postcode gangs, and a lack of opportunities. All of the themes helped to explain why young people join gangs, whilst education & employment, family, and a lack of opportunities also provided insight into why young people leave gangs. The main conclusions drawn from this research are that the provision of opportunities and multi-agency support are key to deterring young people from engaging in gang activity.


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