Background: Prior studies have assessed relationships between gang membership and health-related factors. However, the existing literature has largely failed to consider how individual and broader social contextual factors might be related to such gang involvement among African American females. Thus, the aim of the present study was to identify empirically driven correlates of gang involvement and then better understand the relationship between gang membership and health-related behaviors for African American females, after controlling for covariates of gang involvement. Methods: Data were collected from a convenience sample of detained African American adolescents females, between the ages of 13-17, currently incarcerated in a short-term detention facility in Atlanta, Georgia (n= 188). After obtaining written informed assent and parental permission, participants answered survey questions using A-CASI procedures that assessed socio-contextual factors and health-related behaviors. Results: Multiple logistic regression models controlling for age and SES documented that low self-esteem, emotional dysregulation, trauma history, deviant peers, low parental monitoring, infrequent parental communication, housing instability and poor neighborhood quality were correlates of gang involvement. In addition, multiple linear and logistic regression models, controlling for these constructs, revealed that gang involvement was independently associated with lower STD prevention knowledge, a higher likelihood of having a gang-involved boyfriend, a greater risk of having current casual sexual partnerships, higher rates of substance abuse, higher incidences of condom misuse and a lower likelihood of ever having been tested for HIV. Conclusions: These results provide information that can help service providers target certain profiles of African American females who may be at risk for joining gangs and address the health risk behaviors that may be associated with such memberships.
- Detained girls
- Gang involved
- Health-related factors
- Psychocontextual factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science