Gang Dissertation Titles On Motivation

Gang membership and involvement: Student perceptions and prevention impact

Patricia Anne Murphy, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The study describes the perceptions of a specific group of students toward the advantages and disadvantages of joining gangs. The research identifies the likely impact of a gang prevention program, the Gang Education and Resistance Curriculum (Tsagaris, 1996), on changing student perceptions about joining gangs. Lastly, the study examines what educators and law enforcement officials view are essential characteristics of a successful program to prevent students from joining gangs. ^ Data were collected using a student survey and guided interviews with educators, correctional officers and teachers. One hundred seven students were administered a Gang Awareness Survey prior to and upon completion of the gang prevention program. Guided interviews explored observations and experiences the adults had working with each other and with the students who participated in the program. ^ Findings indicate that students have varying perceptions about the advantages and disadvantages of joining gangs. The impact of a gang prevention program differs for each student. And, there is commitment by adults to prevent students from joining gangs. ^ Specific findings suggest that: (1) Student perceptions of the advantages of joining gangs prior to participation in the program demonstrated lack of knowledge about gang member attributes. (2) Upon completion of the program fewer students perceived many advantages to joining gangs. (3) Overall data analysis indicates that it is likely that the Gang Awareness and Resistance curriculum has an impact on changing participating student perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of joining gangs. (4) Educators and correctional officers believe that collaborative models best serve the needs of the students, the schools and the community. ^ The research culminates in recommendations for developing gang prevention programs. These recommendations can be used by school districts in collaboration with law enforcement officials and other community members to guide the development of programs that meet unique needs to prevent gangs in their schools and communities. ^

Subject Area

School counseling|Criminology|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Murphy, Patricia Anne, "Gang membership and involvement: Student perceptions and prevention impact" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9978531.


Since July 19, 2006


Violent behaviors under different contexts have become prominent topics in criminological scholarship. Violence is common among gang youth (Thornberry et al, 2003) and scholarship has also found that violence occurs due to race issues (Carson and Esbensen, 2014; Iadicola & Shupe, 1998). Research also shows that violence in adult correctional settings also stems from other personal issues (Cunningham, Sorenson, Vigen, & Woods, 2010), but there has been little research addressing the characteristics of violent incidents related to gang, race and other personal issues within youth correctional facilities. The current project fills this research gap by utilizing interviews from over 260 incarcerated male youth, which include over 600 violent incident narratives. The project also applies subculture of violence concepts, research on violence at the situational level and Routine Activities Theory to the analyses.

The first section of my dissertation qualitatively analyzes the relationship between the institutional setting and violence, whether there is a distinct violent subculture, as well as the existence and relationship between respect norms and violence. The next section compares gang and race motivated violent incidents. Quantitative analyses are conducted on the relationship between whether an incident is gang or race related and the presence of select situational characteristics. Qualitative data are analyzed to better understand the context in which gang and race related violence occurs and to compare the similarities and differences between these incident types. The last section of my dissertation examines violent incidents that are motivated by other personal issues. Quantitative analyses assess the association between select situational characteristics with whether or not the incident is related to other personal issues. Qualitative methods provide an improved comprehension of the context in which violence motivated by other personal issues occurs compared to gang and race violent incidents.

The results highlight significant differences in situational characteristics and dynamics of violent incidents motivated by gang, race, and other personal issues. Furthermore, the findings reveal a complex relationship between violent incidents that are gang and race related. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of the implications for institutional policy and programs.

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