Gang affected children: : a study of gang affected children and family support interventions
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
The gang issue has continued to be an increasing problem within the London area. Gangs have a significant negative impact on specific communities and this relates to the various crimes and the violence that are synonymous with gang activity. This issue is exacerbated by adult gang members specifically recruiting children to undertake criminal activities. The consequences have been an increase in the number of children that are entering the YJS for crimes which are categorised by professionals as gang related. These children are also at high risk of being victims of gang related violence. This doctoral thesis aimed to examine whether there was a difference in the offending rate between two groups of gang identified children; one group which received family focused intervention and a control group which received individualised child focused interventions. The study also focused on the parents of a selection of the gang affected children in order to examine their experiences and perception of family focused intervention. The study used both qualitative and quantitative data. The quantitative data was collected from agencies management information systems. This study included a qualitative method and 15 semi-structured interviews were conducted with parents who had received the family focused intervention. Both t-test and ANOVA were used to analyse the differences in the offending rates of the two groups. The study identified that there was a significant difference between the offending rates for those that received the family focused intervention to those that had not. It was also found that those parents who received family focused intervention perceived that the intervention was beneficial. It was notable that these parents did not identify their children as gang members but rather as victims of adult gang members’ exploitation. The research suggests that there is a need for professionals and agencies to review their categorisation of children as gang members and view these children primarily as victims of gang exploitation. This has practice implications as it would require altering the positioning of addressing gang affected children as a safeguarding concern as oppose to a criminal justice issue. The findings suggest that services should review the issue of children affected by gangs within the remit of safeguarding. The study strongly suggests that family focused interventions should be implemented with gang affected children and that families should be viewed as a key variable in protecting children from adult gang members’ exploitation.
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