Other Youth Topics

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

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