This National Gang Center Newsletter focuses on gang-involved girls, female delinquency and human trafficking. The main article about understanding and responding to gang-involved girls summarizes key findings from a National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) study. The NCCD study involved interviews with gang-involved girls and key stakeholders and provided several recommendations for service providers and others who want to help gang-involved girls.
Recommendations from the study findings:
Place Intersectionality at the Forefront – Services should consider the intersectional linkages among participants’ races/ethnicities, genders, classes, citizenship status, gender identities, sexual orientations, and other factors. This can include understanding and acknowledging how these defining characteristics influence the choices, viewpoints, and experiences of young women involved in gangs.
Understand Girls’ Entrenched Lives – Many interview participants were entrenched in lifestyles in which gang involvement was prevalent. As they transition out of gangs, girls need assistance and support in successfully addressing complex relationships with their gang-involved family members, friends, and neighborhoods.
Provide Tailored Services – Many participants decided to exit their gangs because they were pregnant or parenting, which indicates the need for specific services. In addition, as girls transition from gangs, they continue to experience high levels of trauma, need to locate sustainable employment and reliable housing, and may struggle with addiction issues. This information demonstrates the need to offer a range of services and support to young women exiting gangs. Moreover, these resources should be provided to women further into adulthood.
Build on Girls’ Strengths – Service providers and others should use an asset-based approach—such as positive youth development—to recognize and build on girls’ strengths, such as those endorsed by study participants: resiliency, interpersonal skills, intelligence, and independence.
For additional resources on Justice-Involved Women go to NIC’s Women Offenders.