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Prospective childhood risk factors for gang involvement among North American Indigenous adolescents

Hautala, Dane S.
Sittner, Kelley J.
Whitbeck, Les B.
The purpose of the study was to examine prospective childhood risk factors for gang involvement across the course of adolescence among a large 8-year longitudinal sample of 646 Indigenous (i.e., American Indian and Canadian First Nations) youth residing on reservation/reserve land in the Midwest of the United States and Canada. Risk factors at the first wave of the study (ages 10-12) were used to predict gang involvement (i.e., gang membership and initiation) in subsequent waves (ages 11-18). A total of 6.7% of the participants reported gang membership and 9.1% reported gang initiation during the study. Risk factors were distributed across developmental domains (e.g., family, school, peer, and individual) with those in the early delinquency domain having the strongest and most consistent effects. Moreover, the results indicate that the cumulative number of risk factors in childhood increases the probability of subsequent gang involvement. Culturally relevant implications and prevention/intervention strategies are discussed.