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How Can Families Help Prevent Gang Membership?

NIJ & CDC Join Forces:
How Can Families Help Prevent Gang Membership?

The National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership. Written by some of the nation’s top criminal justice and public health researchers, the book — and a separately published executive summary — helps policymakers and practitioners understand what the research says about keeping kids out of gangs.

One chapter in particular might interest you and your constituencies. In "What Should Be Done in the Family to Prevent Gang Membership?" Deborah Gorman-Smith, Andrea Kampfner and Kimberly Bromann Cassel explore how strong families are a major protective factor in preventing gang-joining. For example:

  • Positive family functioning — including consistent discipline — can reduce the risk of gang involvement.
  • Conversely, poor family functioning increases the risk for poor outcomes, including gang affiliation.

“The best possible prevention of criminal and gang involvement begins early in life, working with parents and families to provide support, establish strong parenting practices and emotional connections, and increase parents’ connection to schools and their communities,” write Gorman-Smith and her co-authors.
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