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Article

Changes in Personal Social Networks across Individuals Leaving Their Street Gang: Just What Are Youth Leaving Behind?

1
Department of Criminal Justice, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
2
RAND Corporation, Arlington, VA 22202, USA
3
Department of Criminology, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5S5, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10020039
Received: 17 December 2020 / Revised: 18 January 2021 / Accepted: 19 January 2021 / Published: 26 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on Gang-Related Violence in the 21st Century)
Despite a small but growing literature on gang disengagement and desistance, little is known about how social networks and changes in networks correspond to self-reported changes in street gang membership over time. The current study describes the personal or “ego” network composition of 228 street gang members in two east coast cities in the United States. The study highlights changes in personal network composition associated with changes in gang membership over two waves of survey data, describing notable differences between those who reported leaving their gang and fully disengaging from their gang associates, and those who reported leaving but still participate and hang out with their gang friends. Results show some positive changes (i.e., reductions) in criminal behavior and many changes toward an increase in prosocial relationships for those who fully disengaged from their street gang, versus limited changes in both criminal behavior and network composition over time for those who reported leaving but remained engaged with their gang. The findings suggest that gang intervention programs that increase access to or support building prosocial relationships may assist the gang disengagement process and ultimately buoy desistance from crime. The study also has implications for theorizing about gang and crime desistance, in that the role of social ties should take a more central role. View Full-Text
Keywords: desistance; social networks; street gangs; network composition; criminal behavior desistance; social networks; street gangs; network composition; criminal behavior
MDPI and ACS Style

Roman, C.G.; Cahill, M.; Mayes, L.R. Changes in Personal Social Networks across Individuals Leaving Their Street Gang: Just What Are Youth Leaving Behind? Soc. Sci. 2021, 10, 39. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10020039

AMA Style

Roman CG, Cahill M, Mayes LR. Changes in Personal Social Networks across Individuals Leaving Their Street Gang: Just What Are Youth Leaving Behind? Social Sciences. 2021; 10(2):39. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10020039

Chicago/Turabian Style

Roman, Caterina G., Meagan Cahill, and Lauren R. Mayes. 2021. "Changes in Personal Social Networks across Individuals Leaving Their Street Gang: Just What Are Youth Leaving Behind?" Social Sciences 10, no. 2: 39. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10020039

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