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Highlights of the 1996 National Youth Gang Survey

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 1998
2 pages
Publication Series
Key findings are presented from the 1996 National Youth Gang Survey of law enforcement agencies, which was designed not only to be more comprehensive than previous surveys regarding types of data collected, but also to be statistically representative, resulting in a more extensive national picture of youth gangs.
For the purposes of the survey, a "youth gang" was defined as "a group of youths in (the respondent's) jurisdiction that (the respondent) or other responsible persons in (the respondent's) agency are willing to identify or classify as a 'gang.' " Survey findings indicate that the youth gang problem in this country is substantial and affects communities of all sizes. Almost three-fourths of cities surveyed with populations of more than 25,000 reported youth gangs in 1996. A majority of suburban counties had gangs, as did a significant percentage of small cities and rural counties. Demographic characteristics of gang members appear to be changing. Although Hispanics and African-Americans continued to compose the majority of U.S. gang members, almost one-third of gang members in small cities and rural counties were Caucasian. Gang members were involved in a significant amount of crime, but the degree of involvement and type of crime varied by type of locality. Law enforcement agencies responding to the survey served cities with populations of more than 25,000, suburban-county police and sheriffs' departments, agencies serving cities with populations between 2,500 and 25,000, and a representative sample of rural-county police agencies.

Date Published: November 1, 1998