Risk Factors for Gang Membership Among Norwegian Adolescents

Mons Bendixen, Norwegian Univ. of Science & Technology
Dan Olweus, University of Bergen

ABSTRACT
Findings from North American longitudinal studies of adolescents suggest that prior involvement in antisocial and criminal behavior is one of the best predictors of becoming a gang member. In addition, a number of factors within the domains of community, family, friends, school and individual characteristics have been found to increase the risk of gang membership. This paper explores risk factors of gang membership in a sub-sample of Norwegian students from The New Bergen Project Against Bullying. Data from a two-year longitudinal study of students in grades 5-7 (n=1952) who were measured at three time points (T1-T3), showed that the risk factors were largely different for boys and girls. Using logistic regression analysis, 'antisocial involvement' at T1 (Bendixen & Olweus, 1999) was the single best predictor of gang membership at T2/T3 for boys, while 'substane use' was the single best predictor for girls. Additional risk factors for boys included 'number of antisocial friends', 'opposition to parents', 'lack of parental control' and 'aggressive responses'. 'Lack of commitment to school' and 'learning disabilities' did not predict gang membership, nor did 'parental divorce' and personal characteristics such as 'inattentiveness', 'hyperactivity', 'anxiety' and 'dominance'.

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Updated 05/20/2006