"For years, observers have noted that youth-gang-related crime has been growing, but a picture of the extent and precise nature of crimes committed by gang members is only now beginning to emerge. Are gangs really responsible for increases in crime or are youths who grow up in very difficult circumstances but do not join gangs committing just as many crimes? This study explored the differences between the criminal behavior of youth gang members and nongang, but similarly at-risk, youths. The research revealed that criminal behavior committed by gang members is extensive and significantly exceeds that committed by comparably at-risk but nongang youth. Furthermore, the research suggests important implications for preventing involvement in and intervening in youth gang activity."
National Institute of Justice: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/