line Foreword

For decades, we have researched youth gangs, as their proliferation across America has led to increased public concern. In 1995, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) inaugurated a series of annual surveys, conducted by the National Youth Gang Center, to facilitate analysis of changes and trends in the nature of youth gangs and their activities.

Although the 1995 National Youth Gang Survey was the most extensive national survey conducted up to that time and provided valuable baseline data, the 1996 National Youth Gang Survey is even more representative of the Nation as a whole—surveying nearly 5,000 law enforcement agencies. Survey results indicate that the youth gang problem in the United States is substantial and impacts communities of all sizes, with nearly three-quarters of large cities and one-quarter of rural counties reporting gang activity. The 1996 survey estimates that nearly 850,000 gang members were active in nearly 31,000 gangs—the largest numbers reported to date.

Sound data are essential to solving the problem of juvenile crime. It is my hope that the comprehensive findings of the 1996 National Youth Gang Survey, reported in this Summary, will aid the efforts of all those working to combat the presence of youth gangs in their jurisdictions.

Shay Bilchik
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention


1996 National Youth Gang Survey   July 1999