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Social Networks, Delinquency, and Gang Membership: Using a Neighborhood Framework to Examine the Influence of Network Composition and Structure in a Latino Community

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2012
274 pages
This study explored the network and social variable that affect relations among youth in predominantly Latino neighborhoods.
The study found that Latino youth in the sampled neighborhood were highly connected to people from the neighborhood, and that those whose networks consisted of a larger proportion of in-neighborhood relations did not have significantly higher levels of delinquency, violence, or gang membership. The study also found that intervention efforts were more successful for youth with less dense networks surrounding them, with efforts targeted at individuals more effective than pro-social, anti-delinquent messages spread throughout the community by well-placed, influential individuals. Finally, the study found that certain risk and protective factors affected the youths' risk of delinquency. These factors include separation from U.S. culture, being born abroad, and remaining more closely connected to the Spanish language. This study examined a sample of youth (n=147) in a high-risk, predominantly Latino neighborhood to determine the effect of social and neighborhood networks on their increased risk for delinquency, violence, and gang membership. The youth, ages 14 to 21, completed a survey with questions about their egos, a listing of 20 individuals within their social and neighborhood networks, and questions regarding the links among the individuals in their networks. Analysis of survey responses indicates that neighborhood and social networks have different effects on a youth's risk of delinquency, with neighborhood networks influencing behaviors more than social networks. Tables, figures, references, and appendixes

Date Published: February 1, 2012