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Patients or Perpetrators? The Effects of Trauma Exposure on Gang Members’ Mental Health: A Review of the Literature

Beresford, Hayley, Wood, Jane L. (2015) Patients or Perpetrators? The Effects of Trauma Exposure on Gang Members’ Mental Health: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Criminological Research, Practice and Policy, 2 (2). 148 -159. ISSN 2056-3841. (doi:10.1108/JCRPP-05-2015-0015) (KAR id:54438)


Given the portrayal of gang members as ‘super predators’, it is not surprising that much of the media and scholarly attention, to date, has focused on gang members as perpetrators of violence with little attention paid to their role as victims and their psychological wellbeing (Bennett et al., 1996). In this review we 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 (PTSD). The scarcity of research on this topic leads us to draw from research other than gang research to theorize links to build a clearer picture of the psychological consequences of belonging to a gang. We conclude that gang members' involvement in violence (as victims and perpetrators) is likely to have a negative impact on their behavioral, social and psychological functioning. We suggest future directions should be aimed towards developing and honing a robust program of research capable of producing evidence-based assessment and intervention strategies for tackling gang membership.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1108/JCRPP-05-2015-0015
Uncontrolled keywords: Trauma, gang membership, PTSD, mental health, rehabilitation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Jane Wood
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2016 17:28 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2022 11:16 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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