Focus on the Figures: Gang Association, by Race

Every other weekThe Chronicle of Social Change will feature one key indicator from Kidsdata, which offers comprehensive data about the health and well being of children across California.

In this installment, we look at gang affiliation by race, using data from across the state of California. The data comes from the California Healthy Kids Survey, produced by WestEd, which asked youths in seventh, eighth and ninth grade if they were involved in gangs.

CSC-graphic-Gang-Involvement-2014.11.11According to the survey, 14.3 of black students considered themselves to be gang members. That is well above the 9.6 percent of Latino youths who report membership, and more than double the percentage of white youth.

On a national level, studies suggest Latinos make up a great part of gang membership. The 2011 National Youth Gang Survey, which is based on information from law enforcement, has both Latinos and black men accounting for a disproportionate share of gang membership. Forty-six percent of reported gang members are Latino, the study said, and 35 percent are black.

It is also worth noting that 12.9 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native youth reported gang membership. Little research or study has been done on the presence of gangs on Native American reservations or in the Native American community.

In 1998, San Jose State University student Julie Hailer produced a study on the growth of Indian youth gangs using media reports and a small survey of tribal law enforcement. Of the 77 agencies that responded to her survey, 48 said that gangs had emerged on the reservation.

John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at