Teen gang violence affects nearly one-third of all communities in the U.S. Even though gang-related violence doesn't always get reported because of the fear of repercussions, enough statistical data show how troublesome it is. Teen gang violence isn't always about drugs and money. It's often about territory and revenge.
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According to 2009 data on the Center for Youth Studies website, more than 24,500 gangs have a total of 772,500 members in the U.S. Ninety-four percent of gang members are male. Gang members are from many ethnic backgrounds -- 47 percent are Hispanic, 31 percent are black, 13 percent are white and 7 percent are Asian.
All U.S. cities with a population of more than 250,000 report at least some gang activity. Gang violence also affects rural and suburban populations -- 11 percent in rural communities and 35 percent in suburban counties. However, gang-related murders are most prevalent in large cities. For example, more than half of the homicides reported in Los Angeles and Chicago were gang related in 2009, according to the Center for Youth Studies.
Weapons and Drugs
Gang-related violence is responsible for the majority of serious crimes committed by teenagers. Gang members are more likely to be involved with selling drugs, even if they aren't users themselves, and are more likely to take weapons to school than teens who aren't involved in gangs, according to KernCares.org, a website hosted by community groups in Kern County, California. Teen gang violence affects neighborhoods, middle schools, high schools and the community at large.
Gang Member Age
Gang members usually fall within the 8- to 22-year-old age range, according to DoSomething.org. According to the Center for Youth Studies in 2009, 37 percent of gang members were younger than 18 years of age. Regardless of age, gang members usually organize based on race, ethnic background, territorial claims and criminal money-making ventures. Depending on the gang and its objectives, violent acts include assault, theft, armed robbery, rape and murder.