There is a place where violent behavior, gangs and drug abuse converge. In fact, teens who use drugs are almost twice as likely to engage in violent behavior, steal, abuse other drugs, and join gangs, as compared to teens who do not use drugs.
1 In particular, early use of marijuana—the drug most widely used by teens—is a warning sign of later gang involvement.2 Think that’s not a big deal? You should! Teens who participate in gangs are more likely to be involved in violent acts and drug use.3 Youth gangs are no longer just a big city problem or just populated by males. Most Americans live in or near urban, suburban or rural areas that have problems with youth gangs. As a parent, you may have even heard reports of gang activity in your child’s school. About one-third of public high school (37%) and middle school principals (31%) report gang activity in their schools. By age 17, one-in-twelve teens (8%) report ever belonging to a gang.4 Most adolescents seek acceptance or belonging and many find it through positive family and peer relationships and extracurricular activities. Other teens are vulnerable to falling in with a dangerous crowd, which can lead to drug use, other risky behaviors or even joining a gang. Teens join or are drawn into gangs for a variety of reasons, including a need for acceptance, protection or excitement. Many also follow the lead of family or friends. A growing trend is girls in gangs. Over the past two decades, many young females seeking protection from threatening environments and abusive homes have transcended the auxiliary roles they once played in male-dominated gangs and have gained more power through engaging in more violent crime or forming all-girl gangs. For more information on girls and gang membership, please visit the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
Where there are gangs, there is often drug use, drug trafficking, crime, guns, violence and other risky behaviors. The 2005 National Gang Threat Assessment estimates that 60 percent of gangs are involved in drug distribution at the street level.
5 The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that youth who are involved in youth gangs commit three to seven times as many delinquent and criminal offenses as youth who are not gang involved.6
1 The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Report: Youth Violence and Illicit Drug Use, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 2006.
2 Hill KG, Howell JC, Hawkins JD. Early precursors of gang membership: A study of Seattle teens. Juvenile Justice Bulletin, December, 2001.
3 Snyder, N. Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report. Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice, 2006.
4-6 Synder, H. and Sickmund, M., Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, National Center for Juvenile Justice, "Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report," March 2006.http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ojstatbb/nr2006/index.html
offers both adolescent intervention and treatment programs. Education, individual counseling, family therapy, group counseling and referral to other resources are all part of a comprehensive effort to prevent or intervene in youth alcohol and drug abuse. Call us at 254-690-4455!