Examining Racial and Ethnic Variations in Reasons for Leaving a Youth Gang

  • Dena C. CarsonEmail author



One underrepresented area of research within the developmental and life course framework is how criminal careers vary across racial and ethnic lines. Similarly, little is known about how the processes surrounding leaving a youth gang differ based on the experiences of racial and ethnic minorities. This manuscript will help fill this gap in both bodies of literature by examining differences in push and pull motivations for gang desistance across black, Hispanic, and white youth who reside in seven different cities across the USA.


The mixed-method analysis relies on grounded theory techniques to identify themes in the qualitative interviews as well as provides a quantitative comparison of gang desistance motivations.


Black youth were least likely to report pulls associated with prosocial attachments and were also least likely to report being disillusioned with intragang relationships. Hispanic youth most commonly reported pulls associated with parental encouragement and experiencing official sanctions and pushes centered on direct and vicarious violent experiences. White youth most commonly reported pulls associated with having a significant other and pushes including feelings of disillusionment with intragang relationships.


While there is evidence that street socialization and social isolation uniquely impact the gang desistance decisions of black gang youth, these differences might not be enough to justify race-specific intervention programs.


Gang Gang desistance Race/ethnicity 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public and Environmental AffairsIUPUIIndianapolisUSA

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