This report highlights findings from the five National Youth Gang Surveys conducted annually since 1996 regarding patterns of gang activity, numbers of gangs and gang members, gang-related homicides, and the demographics of gangs and gang members.
The proportion of respondents that reported youth gangs in their jurisdictions decreased over the survey years, from 53 percent in 1996 to 40 percent in 2000. More than 24,500 gangs were active in the United States in 2000, a decline of 5 percent from 1999; however, cities with a population of more than 25,000 experienced a slight increase (up 1 percent from 1999) in the number of gangs. The estimated 12,850 gangs in these cities equals the 1996 estimate, the largest number reported during the survey years. A total of 284 cities with both a population of more than 25,000 and persistent gang activity reported gang homicide statistics for 1999 and 2000. Ninety-one percent of cities with a population of more than 250,000 reported at least one gang-related homicide from 1999 to 2000, as did 64 percent of cities with a population between 100,000 and 250,000, 55 percent of cities with a population between 50,000 and 100,000, and 32 percent of cities with a population between 25,000 and 50,000. In 2000 respondents reported that 94 percent of gang members were male and 6 percent were female. Respondents also indicated that 39 percent of all youth gangs had female members. Eighty-two percent of respondents reported that none of the gangs in their jurisdictions were predominantly composed of females; overall, only 2 percent of gangs were identified as predominantly female. Age and race/ethnicity of gang members were measured in the 1996, 1998, and 1999 surveys. In 1996 respondents reported that 50 percent of gang members were juveniles (younger than 18), and 50 percent were adults. In 1999 these numbers were 37 percent and 63 percent, respectively. In 1999 respondents reported that 47 percent of gang members were Hispanic, 31 percent African-American, 13 percent white, 7 percent Asian, and 2 percent "other." The distribution of race/ethnicity of gang members varied little across measurement years.
Date Published: February 1, 2002