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Examining the moderating role of gang involvement on the context and impact of victimization

Joanna Kubik (School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA)
Meagan Docherty (Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA)
Paul Boxer (Department of Psychology and School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA)
Bonita Veysey (School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA)
Michael Ostermann (School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

ISSN: 2056-3841

Article publication date: 13 June 2016

Abstract

Purpose

Research suggests that gang-involved youth are more likely than non-gang youth to experience victimization. However, very little research has addressed the issue of whether the relationship between gang involvement and victimization depends on the context in which victimization takes place. The purpose of this paper is to examine the nature of the relation between gang involvement and violent victimization in both street and school contexts.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were provided by youth (n=421; ages 11-18; 70 percent male; 66 percent non-white) referred by the justice system for intensive home and community-based treatment of problem behavior. At intake, youth reported on their experiences of violent victimization, mental health status, problem behavior, and substance use. Youth and therapist reports were utilized to indicate gang involvement.

Findings

Approximately 62 percent of gang-involved youth in the sample were victimized across both contexts. Linear and censored regression models found that on average, gang-involved youth experienced a greater frequency of victimization than non-gang youth (p < 0.001). Importantly, results also show that gang involvement amplifies the impact of victimization on key behavioral and mental health outcomes. Victimization in both street and school contexts increases the risk of serious problem behavior for gang-involved youth (p < 0.001). Victimization experiences in schools in particular also may increase alcohol use among gang-involved youth (p=0.006).

Originality/value

These findings emanating from a unique sample of youth in treatment demonstrate the value of considering victimization in context for intervention programming.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Data were obtained through a partnership with Community Solutions Inc. (CSI). CSI is a private, non-profit agency providing comprehensive individual and family services to children, juveniles and adults. CSI is an experienced, licensed provider of an array of evidence-based services. This project was supported by Grant No. 2011-JV-VX-0104 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.

Citation

Kubik, J., Docherty, M., Boxer, P., Veysey, B. and Ostermann, M. (2016), "Examining the moderating role of gang involvement on the context and impact of victimization", Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 107-121. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCRPP-06-2015-0022

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited