University of Hawai'i
(808) 956-8856 Telephone
For Immediate Release:
March 30, 1998
Contact: Meda Chesney-Lind, SSRI and Women's Studies, 956-6313
David Mayeda, SSRI 956-6463
Olani Decker, OYS, 973-1024, for community agency contacts
Report on Hawai'i Gangs and Delinquency Finds Increased Violent Behavior in Juvenile Arrest Trends and Self-Reported Delinquency
Trends in Delinquency and Gang Membership: An Interim Report to the Hawai'i State Legislature has been released by the University of Hawai'i at Manoa Youth Gang Project at the Social Science Research Institute. Under the direction of Meda Chesney-Lind, professor in Women's Studies, this research, including an evaluation of the Hawai'i's Youth Gang Response System, was funded by the Hawai'i State Office of Youth Services.
Among the report's major findings:
· Juvenile arrests rose 19.7% in Hawai'i over the past decade, primarily because of increases in arrests for non-criminal "status" offenses (for example, running away from home, curfew violation). These offenses represent over one-third of all arrests in Hawai'i, compared to 14.6% nationally.
· Arrests of youths for serious violent offenses accounted for 2.6% of all arrests; however, this category of juvenile arrests showed a 200% increase, due largely to arrests for aggravated assaults and robberies.
The UH Youth Gang Project has been collecting information on exposure to gangs for eight years, partly to provide a profile of youths in the programs funded through the state's Youth Gang Response System. This latest report states that although gang membership and influence are still a serious problem, there is no sign of dramatic increase. However, youths living in the neighborhoods surveyed are familiar with gang members. Students enrolled in the Positive Alternative Gang Education (PAGE) Program in four intermediate schools Nanakuli, Kahuku, Dole and Wai'anae) reported that they knew of gangs in their neighborhoods or had friends or family members in gangs. For example, when asked if they knew people in their neighborhoods who are in gangs, 44% of Kahuku youths, 39% of Wai'anae youths, 36% of Nanakuli youths and 80% of Kalihi youths said they did.
The study also surveyed youths in delinquency prevention and intervention programs. These data showed both gang-related and nongang-related violence on the increase. Notably, 48% of the 250 surveyed (mean age: 12.9 years) in agency programs stated that in the past year, they have hit or threatened to hit another person, up 4% from the previous year's survey; 19% said they have used a weapon to hurt or threaten to hurt another person or in self-defense, up 5.4%. Surveyed youths did report, however, less use of marijuana (16%), ice (3%) and alcoholic beverages (10%). About one-quarter (23%) of these relatively young adolescents reported having been in a gang or were currently in a gang; over one-third had family members in gangs; well over half (57%) had friends in gangs and two-thirds (66%) knew people in their neighborhoods who were in gangs. Only 7% said they were current gang members, but nearly one-quarter (23%) of these youths said they had been in a gang fight in the last year. Nearly half of the boys who said they were gang members had carried a hidden weapon (like a knife or gun) to school and one in ten had carried a gun to school. High levels of delinquency were also reported by girls who were in gangs with little difference from boys' experiences in gang fights.
The reasons young people join gangs or avoid gangs-as well as attitudes
and aspirations regarding school, future opportunities, and peer pressure-are
explored in the report. Copies are available in limited numbers from the
UH Social Science Research Institute and the State Office of Youth Services;
additional copies have been placed in the University's library system.