, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 383-404

Pathways to Risk Among Inner-City African-American Adolescent Females: The Influence of Gang Membership

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Differential rates of participation in three categories of risk behaviors (i.e., sexual activity, substance use, violence) were explored, comparing gang members to nonmembers, within a sample of 1,143 inner-city African American adolescent females. The relationship between gang membership and risk behavior also was examined, by exploring the association between a variety of microsystemic influences (e.g., gang, family, school) and participation in risk behaviors. MANOVA analyses indicated that gang members, relative to nonmembers, reported higher rates of participation in each of the three categories of risk behaviors. Stepwise linear regression analyses indicated that gang membership was the variable with the most consistent predictive ability, across all categories of risk, as it entered early in all equations and remained in all three final models after controlling for other statistically significant contextual variables. Findings suggest that intervention efforts aimed at reducing adolescent females' participation in sexual activity, substance use, and violence should consider the influence of gang membership on the participation in these behaviors.