"The goal of this project was to provide recommendations toward the development of effective community-based programs to prevent gang membership and related delinquency. This cross-sectional study examined the relationship between gang involvement and delinquency in communities which have a large number of Vietnamese refugee families in Southern California. Intra-ethnic group comparisons of delinquency using 1,032 official records showed that Asian gang delinquency represents up to 48% of all Asian delinquency. Hypotheses concerning both cultural and non-cultural aspects of the etiology of youth gang involvement were developed in a series of focus groups with experts in Vietnamese culture and experts in gang behavior. Interviews with 270 pairs of Vietnamese parents and youths were conducted in a community agency setting by trained Vietnamese interviewers. Gang involvement was measured using both a traditional method, and an innovative method which quantified the centrality of gang members in the social life of the youth. Multivariate analyses indicated that non-cultural explanations were more predictive than cultural explanations of gang involvement. The best predictors were a positive attitude toward gangs on the part of the youth, and the presence of gangs in the youth's residential neighborhood environment. Findings suggest that promising approaches to reducing gang participation should include changing attitude toward gangs from positive to negative. Additionally, youth should be equipped with interpersonal skills to resist the influence of gangs within their residential areas. Attitude change and gang resistance skills should be incorporated into programs designed to reduce gang involvement among youth."
National Criminal Justice Reference Center (NCJRC): http://www.ncjrs.org