Anti-gang strategies and interventions

1 Apr 2007

This paper reviews anti-gang intervention strategies and the limits and possibilities for positive action in regard to gang formation and activities.

The first part of the paper provides a general overview of intervention strategies. For example, a distinction is drawn between coercive and developmental approaches to youth issues. It is observed that a comprehensive approach to gang issues must first consider the nature of the problem, its source and varying ways in which to respond. A key theme of this section is that concerted attention must be given to scoping the issues at a local level, and to answering a series of concrete questions about the nature of gangs and gang-related behaviour in a particular geographical area or amongst a specific community group. As part of this discussion, the dynamics of group participation, including entry and exit of groups, as well as group transformations, including changes in a gang over time, are canvassed.

The second part of the paper briefly reviews some of the ideas and strategies that have informed government and community action around gang issues at the grassroots level. Areas of interest include the family and parenting; school-based interventions; coercive street-based approaches; community- based strategies; proposals relating to the media. Although very few programmes and strategies have actually been evaluated, the discussion provides a broad spectrum of approaches and programmes that might inform future local practice. A key theme of this section is that the best forms of intervention are those based upon principles of participation and social inclusion, including young people themselves.

The paper concludes with a few observations about the need for a holistic and comprehensive approach to issues of gangs and youth violence.

Related identifier: ISBN 978-1-921-352-17-1

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