Girls, Gangs, and Getting Out: Gender Differences and Similarities in Leaving the Gang

Eryn Nicole O’Neal, Scott Decker, Richard K. Moule, David C. Pyrooz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This study draws from role exit theory and feminist criminology to examine whether the catalysts and consequences of gang disengagement differ between males and females. We analyze data on 143 individuals interviewed about their status as former gang members in Los Angeles, CA, and Phoenix, AZ, and assess whether there are gender differences across three interrelated components of disengaging from gangs: (1) the motivations for leaving the gang, (2) sources of support in the exit process, and (3) real and perceived residual concerns and consequences in transitioning out of the gang. Very few differences in the gang disengagement process were found between females and males. Females reported continued concerns about threats to their family, while males reported continued police harassment after leaving the gang. Overall, findings suggest that group processes shape disengagement experiences regardless of gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-60
Number of pages18
JournalYouth Violence and Juvenile Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • female gang members
  • gang disengagement
  • gender
  • role exit
  • role transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Law


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