Other Youth Topics


  1. Youth Topics
  2. Gang Involvement Prevention
  3. Adverse Effects

Adverse Effects

Youth gang involvement impacts the health and welfare of the individual, as well as that of his or her family, peers, and community.

Youth Involved in Gangs

The numerous consequences stemming from gang involvement can have varying degrees of short and long-term negative outcomes. Youth who become involved in gangs face the increased risk of

  • dropping out of school;
  • teen parenthood;
  • unemployment;
  • victimization;
  • drug and alcohol abuse;
  • committing petty and violent crimes; and
  • juvenile conviction and incarceration.1

Further, a youth’s involvement with a gang (or gangs) also leads to an increased likelihood of economic hardship and family problems in adulthood, which in turn, contribute to involvement in street crime and/or arrest in adulthood. Research has suggested that the longer an adolescent stays in a gang the more disruption he or she will experience while transitioning into adulthood and in adulthood itself.2

Impact on Communities

Large communities, those with a population over 50,000, are at the greatest risk of significant gang activity, and community members face heightened fear that they, their families, schools, or businesses, will become victims of theft and/or violence. Further, communities with gang activity are disproportionately affected by theft, negative economic impact, vandalism, assault, gun violence, illegal drug trade, and homicide.3

Impact on Society

On the societal level, youth gang involvement costs local, state, and federal governments a substantial amount of money in prevention, response, incarceration, and rehabilitation efforts. It has been estimated that overall crime in the U.S. costs taxpayers $655 billion annually4 with a substantial amount of this crime attributed to gang activity.5


The Impact of Gangs on Communities (PDF, 9 pages)
This National Youth Gang Center bulletin gives a comprehensive discussion on the effects of gangs within communities and the lifelong effects of this problem. Factors taken into account include demographics of a community, and the impacts gang activity can have on the economic and physical climate of an affected area.    


1 Howell, 2006; Krohn, Ward, Thornberry, & Lizotte, 2011
2 Hill et al., 1999
3 McDaniel, 2012
4 The approximated cost of gangs cannot be calculated since gang crimes are not routinely and systematically documented in most law enforcement agencies. (Hill et al., 1999)
5 Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2004

Other Resources on this Topic


Videos & Podcasts

Youth Briefs

How Individualized Education Program (IEP) Transition Planning Makes a Difference for Youth with Disabilities

Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.

Youth Transitioning to Adulthood: How Holding Early Leadership Positions Can Make a Difference

Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people

How Trained Service Professionals and Self-Advocacy Makes a Difference for Youth with Mental Health, Substance Abuse, or Co-occurring Issues

Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.

Young Adults Formerly in Foster Care: Challenges and Solutions

Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.

Coordinating Systems to Support Transition Age Youth with Mental Health Needs

Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.

Civic Engagement Strategies for Transition Age Youth

Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).