Criminal street gangs have been a huge problem and still remain a problem in many states of the U.S. street gangs are associated with many of the most serious crimes especially drive-by-shootings, assaults, home invasions, robberies, and homicides that account for the largest share of personal threats in America. the Department of Justice estimates that there are about 200,000 criminals who operate individually or are associated with street gangs in California (Friedrichs, 2012). The numbers rise exponentially nationwide. In the past two decades, gang members and street criminals have increased by more 300 percent. Surprisingly, many of the members are aged between 15 and 24 years. The young age of the criminals and gravity of the crimes is worrying to the future of the young generation. Typically, people aged between 15 and 24 are in high school, college, or just graduated and have been absorbed to the workforce. However, this population contributes negatively to the economy by risking the lives of good citizens and destroying property. Importantly, the health costs incurred in terms of victims of the crimes is significant notwithstanding the loss after the death of the young people and the victims (Friedrichs, 2012). These issues underscore the need to evaluate the measures which can help lower the crime rate among the young adults.
According to studies, youth violence is among the leading causes of physical injuries and death. Statistics show that 4,708 youths aged between 10 and 24 years were victims of homicide in 2011 (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). Data also shows that homicide is the leading cause of death for people aged between 10 and 24 and in fact causes more deaths than the next seven causes combined. Apart from death, the cost of violence and crime is significantly high in terms of injuries. In 2011, it was revealed that for every homicide victim, 142 other cases of nonfatal physical assault-related injuries were reported. In 2012, the numbers increased to reach 599,336 youths who reported to U.S emergency departments for nonfatal physical assault-related injuries (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). These statistics show that 13 people aged between 10 and 24 are victims of crime and are treated in hospitals daily.
A study conducted by Finkelhor and other scholars in 2014 sought to determine how many children and youth have been inculcated into initiatives that intend to stop violence and crime. The survey that involved children aged between 5 and 17 years revealed that 65% of the sample population had participated in anticrime programs with 55% taking part in such programs in the past year. Notably, majority of the participants (71%) felt that the programs were helpful in preventing crimes and violence. Also, it was noted that children aged between 5 and 9 years who had taken part in higher quality prevention initiatives reported lower levels of crime perpetration and peer victimization. However, the same relationship was absent for respondents above 10 years or those inculcated in lower quality programs.
Finkelhor et al. (2014) study also revealed that children who were exposed to high quality programs especially those that had witnessed crime victimization had a higher likelihood of disclosing cases of victimization and violence to the police. The results of Finkelhor et al. (2014) concur with the advantages argued by proponents violence prevention programs. however, the findings also suggest that are few programs and few participants currently to carry out reliable tests and assess efficacy of the programs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) (2013). Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html.
Finkelhor, D., Vanderminden, J., Turner, H., Shattuck, A., & Hamby, S. (2014). Youth exposure to violence prevention programs in a national sample. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(4), 677-686. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.01.010
Friedrichs, M. (2012). Gangs: Problems and Answers. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/ganginterv/gangsproblems.htm
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