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Before discussing the issue of youth gang involvement in Canada, it is important to clarify what is meant by the term.Within and between academic, government and law enforcement communities there is a lack of a widely-agreed upon definition of 'youth gang'.The majority of the theoretical knowledge and empirical work on youth gangs has come from the United States.
Further, a clear, concise definition of 'youth gang' is needed in the context of the development, implementation and evaluation of prevention and intervention initiatives.
This allows us to better focus our efforts by setting aside other criminal offenders and youth groups that infrequently participate in criminal activity (Klein & Maxson, 2006) and to properly tailor strategies targeting those at risk of and involved in youth gangs.
This research report provides an overview of advances that have been made in defining youth gangs and their activities, motivations for joining, and risk and protective factors that influence involvement in a gang lifestyle.
Further, in the last number of years strides have been made in understanding gang involvement among several key populations, namely Aboriginal youth, immigrant youth and young women.
Correspondence concerning this report should be addressed to: Research Division Public Safety Canada 340 Laurier Avenue West Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P8 Email: PS. In the 1990s, gangs and their activities were given renewed attention when media organizations and many police departments began to increasingly attribute street shootings in many cities to youth gangs (Ezeonu, 2010).
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