Feb 2, 2021, 9:44 PM
Youth gang membership and the crime that it generates is a serious problem in lowand middle-income countries, involving many thousands of young people and resulting in billions of dollars of crime, loss of life, and social disruption.
This review assessed the evidence on preventive interventions that focus on increasing social capacity to reduce gang membership or rehabilitate gang members outside of the criminal justice system.
The lack of evidence prevents us from making any conclusions about which interventions are most effective in reducing youth involvement in gangs.
To identify programs that work and those that do not researchers, practitioners and commissioners should begin to rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of preventive gang programs in the field.
Youth gangs are frequently associated with high levels of crime and violence in lowand middle-income countries – creating fear, reducing social cohesion, costing billions of dollars in harm and many thousands of lives diverted to criminality.
However, youth gangs are also seen to fill a void, as a means of overcoming extreme disadvantage and marginalization.
Preventive interventions focus on capacity building and social prevention, and are designed to work proactively to stop crime before it occurs, either by preventing youth from joining gangs or by reducing recidivism by rehabilitating gang members outside of the criminal justice system.
By addressing the causes of youth gang membership, these interventions seek to reduce or prevent gang violence.
There is a serious lack of rigorous evaluations of preventive gang interventions in low- and middle-income countries from which to draw conclusions about best
Yet there are a large number of preventive gang programs currently in the field, and many studies that assert their effectiveness.
The research and practitioner communities to develop a program of rigorous evaluation, both quantitative and qualitative, in order to establish a benchmark for best practice and to systematically capture important learnings from a range of low- and middle-income country contexts.
The review contains a description of each intervention, a summary of the authors’ findings and conclusions about barriers and facilitators of implementation success, and a thematic synthesis of overarching themes identified across the studies.