Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Scott H. Decker & G. David Curry
As street gangs grow in number across the United States, greater attention is focused on both prevention of new gang membership and intervention with existing gang members. Although there is disagreement about the exact definition of a gang, every definition includes some mention of a group. Because most delinquent acts or crimes committed by juveniles are done in groups, distinguishing between groups and gangs is important, and more elements of a definition of gangs are needed. The use of symbols is a second element in defining gangs. Most gangs have some symbols of membership, which take a number of forms, including hand signs, clothes, and certain ways of wearing clothes. Gang definitions also include some level of permanence to the group, because many confederations of young people form over a single time-bounded issue, only to disband. Most gang definitions require that the gang be in existence over a prolonged period ...