Understanding Gang-Affiliated Adolescent Females: Developing a Typology

Rebecca D. Petersen, University of Texas - San Antonio
Avelardo Valdez, University of Houston

ABSTRACT
While gang-affiliated young women constitute the largest number of "girls in gangs," it is ironic the least amount of research has been conducted about this specific group. Since a paucity of studies on gang-affiliated females exist, it is not known whether their type of affiliation (family member and/or friend) or length of affiliation influences the nature and extent of illegal gang activity. Not only do we attempt to examine the social contexts and interrelationships between the family and the gang, we also identify the influence of peer relationships and gang activity. This research contributes to the developing gang literature by using data from a community-based random sample of gang-affiliated young women from San Antonio, Texas. This random sample includes 150 young Mexican American women age 14 to 18 involved in 26 different gangs to explore their relationships, associations and types of illegal gang activities. Specifically, we examine the extent to which these young women differ in illegal gang activities based on social relationships. Such examination of these questions is used to create a gang affiliation index and lays the groundwork for developing a typology of gang-affiliated young women.

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Updated 05/20/2006