Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

O'Brien, K., Daffern, M., Chu, C. & Thomas, S. DM. (2013). Youth gang affiliation, violence, and criminal activities: A review of motivational, risk, and protective factors. Aggression And Violent Behavior, 18 (4), 417-425.


Youth gangs are a universal phenomenon attracting increasing attention; the criminal and antisocial behavior perpetuated by youth gangs has an adverse impact on local communities across the globe. Although there is an extensive body of research that has examined the problems posed by youth gangs in America (and more recently in other countries), there have been relatively fewer empirical studies that examined the factors and psychological processes that are related to youth joining and leaving gangs. This review compiles the international research on the nature of youth gangs and critically evaluates: (a) the factors that motivate engagement in and desistance from gang-related activities, (b) risk and protective factors that impact on youths' propensity for gang membership, delinquency, and violent behavior, and the adverse consequences associated with gang affiliation, and (c) the relationship between gang-affiliation, youth violence, and criminal behavior.