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Law Enforcement Youth Gang Definitional Conference

NCJ Number
Date Published
87 pages
This report presents the edited transcript of a conference intended to achieve an understanding and clarification of local applications of gang-related terms.
Conference participants hoped to agree on gang-related definitions to facilitate local and national assessments of the street-gang problem. Discussion objectives were to define the gang as an object of law enforcement; to decide on the nature of a gang-related event as it stems from the definition of a gang; and to develop a uniform method of reporting that would be meaningful to the community, useful to academia, and functional for law enforcement. Conference participants found that the terms "youth gang," "gang member," and "gang-related incident" varied in meaning across police jurisdictions. Definitions also differed across settings, such as schools, youth agencies, and correctional institutions within the same jurisdiction. The discussion of conference findings concludes that in research across sites, the differences in gang-related definitions can be resolved. Local definitions can be retained, and a secondary definition can be developed. Also, the differing definitions, emphases, or preferences may show accurate perceptions of a different reality in the development of street gangs.

Date Published: January 1, 1989