An Examination of the Relationship between Gang Membership and Hopelessness

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Student Contributions
August 2011
Erica N. Redner-Vera

The literature on hopelessness suggests youth living amid impoverished conditions, social disorganization, and limited resources are more likely to experience increased feelings of hopelessness. Similarly, many of the aforementioned aspects are considered, in some capacity, in the research on gangs.

 Though a considerable amount of gang literature alludes to the fact that loss of hope may be present, it neither directly addresses it nor references it. This study attempts to converge the present literature on hopelessness among minority youth to minority youth in street gangs. This is done using data obtained from an earlier evaluation of the Mesa Gang Intervention Project, using self-report data from 197 youth, asking questions about socio-demographic information, gang activity, education, employment, crime and delinquency, family and individual crisis, and self-reported detention. Findings implicate a connection exists between gang membership and increased levels of hopelessness. Moreover, results suggest education and self-esteem help to reduce loss of hopelessness.