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National Youth Gang Survey Analysis



The National Gang Center (NGC) conducted an annual survey of law enforcement agencies between 1996–2012 to assess the extent of gang problems by measuring the presence, characteristics, and behaviors of local gangs in jurisdictions throughout the United States. This Web resource contains analysis and findings from the National Youth Gang Surveys (NYGS). Numerous charts and descriptions are provided as a resource for understanding gang problems.

Defining “Gang”

There is no widely or universally accepted definition of a “gang” among law enforcement agencies — see NGC’s compilation of gang-related legislation. To capture the varying yet largely overlapping definitional criteria across jurisdictions, the NYGS requests recipients to report information for youth gangs, defined as “a group of youths or young adults in your jurisdiction that you or other responsible persons in your agency or community are willing to identify as a ‘gang.’” Respondents are requested to exclude motorcycle gangs, hate or ideology groups, prison gangs, and exclusively adult gangs from survey responses since these latter groups are characteristically distinct from youth gangs. In addition, the terms “youth” and “juvenile” are not synonymous. The term “youth” is more general than the term “juvenile,” which is a legal designation statutorily defined within each state.

For further discussion of the definitional considerations pertaining to “youth” and “street” gangs, see “What is a gang?” in NGC’s Frequently Asked Questions section.

Survey Sample and Methodology

The NYGS is based on a nationally representative sample of more than 2,500 law enforcement agencies serving larger cities, suburban counties, smaller cities, and rural counties. The average annual response rate was approximately 85 percent for the entire sample, as well as within each area type. More than 95 percent of the agencies have reported gang-related survey data at least once over the previous three survey cycles. 



Survey Results

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Suggested citation: National Gang Center. National Youth Gang Survey Analysis.
Retrieved [date] from https://nationalgangcenter.ojp.gov/survey-analysis.