Understanding the relationship between violent victimization and gang membership

Charles Katz, Vincent Webb, Kathleen Talbot, Jennifer N. Shaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Purpose: Research examining factors that precipitate gang violence has contributed substantially to our understanding of gangs and gang activity with respect to offending, yet we still know relatively little about how gangs influence members' risk of victimization. The current study examines three hypotheses: (1) gang involvement and involvement in other risky lifestyles is related to violent victimization, (2) involvement in gang crime is associated with violent victimization, and (3) the presence of rival gangs is related to violent victimization. Methods: The present study uses data obtained from 909 recently booked juvenile arrestees who were interviewed as part of the Arizona Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program. Results: Our findings indicated that prevalence of violent victimization was highest among gang members, followed by former gang members, gang associates, and non-gang members. After controlling for involvement in gang crime, however, gang membership per se did not significantly influence the juveniles' risk of serious violent victimization. Conclusions: Our results call into question the conclusion that gang membership alone increases the likelihood of violent victimization vis-à-vis lifestyle/routine activities and/or collective liability. Instead our findings support prior research on the victim-offender overlap, that offending behaviors increase the risk of victimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-59
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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