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Youth gang members feel safe despite increased assault risk

Washington, June 4 (ANI): A new research has revealed that kids in gangs feel safer despite a greater risk of being assaulted or killed.

Michigan State University criminologist Chris Melde says that the findings may help explain why youth continue to join street gangs despite the well-established danger.

“It’s a paradox. Gang members essentially are not allowed to show fear and this can have a profound impact on adolescents. Their quest for acceptance, along with their immersion into this culture steeped in violence, may ultimately numb their reaction to violence, including their fear of victimization,” said Melde.

For the study, Melde and colleagues examined 1,450 public school students in the sixth through ninth grades during a two-year period. The students came from 15 schools in four states: Arizona, New Mexico, Massachusetts and South Carolina.

They found that the students who joined gangs said they had higher levels of victimization, but also reported a relatively large decrease in fear at the same time. Victimization ranged from the fear of home invasion to being attacked.

Melde says that the study also highlights a possible intervention point.

Because fear, which affects decision-making, generally peaks immediately following a violent action – and before the gang can organize a response – it might be the best time to try convincing gang members to quit, according to Melde.
“Intervening in their lives right then may impact their decision whether they stay in a gang or not,” he said.

The study appears in the online edition of the journal Criminology. (ANI)

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