Youth Gang Involvement: What Are The Risk Factors

It is proven that young people are the most influenced by gangs and gang leaders. The national crime prevention centre of Canada has been working for years to develop and disseminate practical knowledge to address the problem of youth gangs. To essentially prevent youth from joining such gangs, it is important to know what the risk factors are.

A risk factor may be defined as a life event or series of events that are associated with increased problem behaviour. Some of the risk factors are the absence of a parent, peer groups, unsupportive families, difficult situations at school and in community, and sometimes it is simply the individual character of that person. Whatever be the reason, it is important to identify these risk factors and solve this problem.

These risk factors may be divided into 5, namely individual, peer group, school, family and community.


  • Previous history of a minor crime
  • Drug trafficking
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Violent victimization
  • Aggression
  • A constant need for group awards such as status, self-esteem, identity, etc.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

Peer Groups

  • High commitment to minor crime peers
  • Street socialization
  • Interaction with people who commit a crime
  • Preteen exposure to stress
  • Gang members or their children in classrooms
  • Friends who use drugs or/and are gang members



  • Poor School performance
  • Educational aspirations
  • Frustration related to education
  • Anti-social behaviour at school
  • Learning difficulty
  • No role model teachers
  • Very reluctant to come to school


  • Disorganized family, especially with parents or members of the family being active drug of alcohol abusers
  • Neglect from family, violence and drug addiction
  • Gang members or children of gang members associated with family
  • Parent criminality, parents with a history of violent attitudes towards children and siblings, lack of parental role models
  • Difficult economic situation at home and in the family



  • Neighbourhood that has high crime rates
  • The youth is constantly in trouble in the communities
  • Disorganized society, including high poverty and residential mobility
  • Presence of gangs in the nearby neighbourhood
  • Social acceptance and promotion of gang behaviour in society
  • Free access and availability of firearms
  • Availability for perceived access to drugs and alcohol in the neighbourhood


Having an idea about the risk factors and identifying them at a young age is very important to prevent the youth from joining gangs. Gang violence contributes to a large number of violence-related deaths in the world, and therefore to reduce its percentage, we need to identify and prevent such incidents in the future.


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