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Vietnamese Youth Gang Involvement.

A study in the city of Westminister in Orange County, California, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), examined factors related to gang involvement by Vietnamese American youth. This Fact Sheet summarizes findings from the study's final report, Cultural Explanations for Vietnamese Youth Involvement in Street Gangs.

Research indicated that noncultural explanations are more predictive of gang involvement than cultural explanations. Contrary to popular belief, the study found that Vietnamese youth who reject their Asian identity and find it difficult to adopt an American identity are not more likely than other Vietnamese youth to become involved with gangs. The results of this study did not support the belief that gang involvement is a way for youth to obtain an identity when it is difficult to obtain it through family and social environments. In fact, the study did not fully support any of the cultural or noncultural hypotheses. Instead, researchers identified two main factors that predict Vietnamese youth gang involvement: progang attitudes and exposure to gangs in the neighborhood. Four predictors were found to influence the development of progang attitudes: negative school attitude, family conflict, poor social integration (i.e., a generalized sense of alienation), and perceived benefits of gang membership.

These findings suggest that while services focusing solely on cultural identity issues may have benefits, they will not be effective in preventing or reducing gang involvement by Vietnamese youth. Instead, services should focus on improving youth attitudes about school, reducing feelings of alienation, and modifying perceptions that gangs are beneficial to their members. Furthermore, services will prevent gang involvement if they address family conflict and provide some buffer against the influence of neighborhood gangs.

The final report, Cultural Explanations for Vietnamese Youth Involvement in Street Gangs (prepared under OJJDP grant number 95-JD-FX-0041), is available on-line from the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse at http.//www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org/pubs/gang.html#180955 or by telephone at 800-638-8736.
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Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Words:319
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