Gang formation revisited: A human development framework to inform balanced anti-gang strategies

Gilberto Q. Conchas, James Diego Vigil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article provides a conceptual explanation of how human developmental processes promote gangformation as well as inform a balanced anti-gang strategy. The article describes how, in ethnic minority neighborhoods, poverty and marginalization lead to "street socialization" and the institutionalization of street gang subcultures that undermine the normal course of human development. This article suggests that we must look to the human developmental root of gangs by examining the historical and cultural experiences of ethnic minority youth through a multiple marginality framework. The use of such perspective, establishing the realities of time, place and people, can lay the foundation for the balanced prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies needed to circumvent gang involvement. Iwasinasituationwherelreactedbyprotectingmyself. Idon 't look atmyself"as a killer... When I went to [prison], I was innocent. They corrupted me inside. They say they 're doing society a better deal by locking you up. Uh-uh. Oh, hell no. You keep youth out. Do something to them for what the hell they've done, but don't put them in that type of place... I thought I was a killer, [but] 1was in there with some killers. I wasn 'I no damn killer. (Bebee) I always instilled in my children to have self-respect, to have education as a foundation, because I 'm not rich. Idon 7 have money to give to [my boys]; the only thing that ¡them [to do is] to study. That iswhy I'm involved with that at school. Their foundation is to study. 1 tell them, I want a college degree from you. I don't have money to leave to you or a residency, house. The only thing I can give you is an education, and that 's more than enough. ' They pick up on this. They know that, if they don't study, they are not going to be anything. They know from the oldest one to the youngest one. That is the goal, the foundation that I have pushed them on. That is why they say, 'I'm going to study to become a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer. ' I tell them, 'Okay. Just look out for what you are going to study. ' (Sonia).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-52
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Gang Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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