According to the National Gang Center, gang research scholars have identified a multitude of risk factors that are statistically linked to gang joining. These individual risk factors span the many dimensions in a youth’s life and are typically grouped into five categories (called “domains”): individual, family, school, peer, and neighborhood/community.
Importantly, however, these extensive research studies have demonstrated that there is no one risk factor (or even domain) responsible for gang joining; rather, it is the accumulation of multiple risk factors across multiple domains that greatly increases gang joining. Thus, put another way, gang joining is not attributable to a single risk factor (e.g., single-parent household), since some youth with the risk factor may not join a gang and some youth without the risk factor may join. It is far more productive, then, to assess (and ultimately, address) the collection of risk factors across the five social domains to prevent gang joining.
A complete enumeration of risk factors for juvenile delinquency, gang involvement, and data indicators can be accessed at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Strategic Planning Tool.