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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1999 Aug;27(4):261-76.

Boys who join gangs: a prospective study of predictors of first gang entry.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


In a representative sample of boys who were in the 7th grade of an urban public school system at the start of a 6-year longitudinal study, more African American boys (23.8%) than non-Hispanic White boys (3.9%) had entered an antisocial gang by age 19. There were too few White gang members to study, but among African American boys, first gang entry was predicted prospectively by both baseline conduct disorder (CD) behaviors and increasing levels of CD behaviors prior to gang entry. This suggests that gang entry may be a further developmental step for some boys who are already on a trajectory of worsening antisocial behavior. Having friends prior to gang entry who engaged in aggressive delinquency increased the risk of gang entry further, but only during early adolescence. Family income and parental supervision also independently predicted gang entry, but the direction of their influences depended on the youth's age.

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