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Patients or perpetrators? The effects of trauma exposure on gang members’ mental health: a review of the literature

Patients or perpetrators? The effects of trauma exposure on gang members’ mental health: a review... Purpose– Gangs have become a hot topic in recent years, particularly since 2011 when gang members became the poster child for “the worst bout of civil unrest in a generation”. Given the portrayal of gang members as “super predators,” it is maybe not surprising that much of the media and scholarly attention, to date, has focussed on gang members as perpetrators of violence — paying little attention to their role as victims and the impact this may have on their psychological wellbeing (Bennett et al., 1996). The purpose of this paper is to evaluate and synthesize theory and research relating to the relationship between gang membership and mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder and considered how treating gang violence as a public health problem, rather than punishing it as a criminal justice problem has superior benefits in terms of rehabilitation and reduced recidivism. Design/methodology/approach– The scarcity of research on this topic meant that research from other subfields of psychology was be collated in order to build a clearer picture of the psychological consequences belonging to a gang can have. Findings– It is clear from this review that gang members’ involvement in violence (as victims and perpetrators) is likely to have a negative impact on their behavioral, social and psychological functioning. Originality/value– The authors suggest future directions should be aimed toward developing and honing a robust program of research capable of producing intelligence-led assessment and intervention. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice Emerald Publishing

Patients or perpetrators? The effects of trauma exposure on gang members’ mental health: a review of the literature

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
2056-3841
DOI
10.1108/JCRPP-05-2015-0015
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose– Gangs have become a hot topic in recent years, particularly since 2011 when gang members became the poster child for “the worst bout of civil unrest in a generation”. Given the portrayal of gang members as “super predators,” it is maybe not surprising that much of the media and scholarly attention, to date, has focussed on gang members as perpetrators of violence — paying little attention to their role as victims and the impact this may have on their psychological wellbeing (Bennett et al., 1996). The purpose of this paper is to evaluate and synthesize theory and research relating to the relationship between gang membership and mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder and considered how treating gang violence as a public health problem, rather than punishing it as a criminal justice problem has superior benefits in terms of rehabilitation and reduced recidivism. Design/methodology/approach– The scarcity of research on this topic meant that research from other subfields of psychology was be collated in order to build a clearer picture of the psychological consequences belonging to a gang can have. Findings– It is clear from this review that gang members’ involvement in violence (as victims and perpetrators) is likely to have a negative impact on their behavioral, social and psychological functioning. Originality/value– The authors suggest future directions should be aimed toward developing and honing a robust program of research capable of producing intelligence-led assessment and intervention.

Journal

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and PracticeEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 13, 2016

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