An estimated 26,000 youth gangs 0 members exist in the United States. Although the term gang may hawith more than 840,50ve different meanings in different contexts, for the purposes of this entry, gang is defined as a neighborhood group that is identified by others, and whose members recognize themselves, as a distinct group; its members are involved in activities that are illegal or considered inappropriate by neighborhood residents and/or law enforcement groups. Delinquency generally distinguishes gangs from other youth organizations. Youth gangs participate in some illegal activities and regularly violate school policies. This entry describes the scope of gang activity in the United States and then reviews reasons why youth join gangs.

The mid-1990s witnessed a decrease in gang activity in many schools and ...

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