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Gang members or vulnerable youth? Reshaping how we think of gang-involved youth: An examination into their emotional and mental health needs

Frisby-Osman, Sarah (2019) Gang members or vulnerable youth? Reshaping how we think of gang-involved youth: An examination into their emotional and mental health needs. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:81321)

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Mental health difficulties, conduct problems, and emotional maladjustment predict a range of negative outcomes, and this may include gang membership. However, few studies have examined how behavioral, emotional, mental health, and socio-cognitive factors all relate to adolescent gang involvement. Consequently, the relationship between gang membership and a range of psychological constructs is, to date, not well understood. The research described in this thesis sought to investigate, and develop further understanding of, youth gang members' affective and mental health experiences, their behavioral outcomes, and engagement of socio-cognitive processes. A systematic review on gang members' mental health and emotions via narrative synthesis revealed how gang members may be at increased risk of suffering from mental illnesses and negative emotions, such as anger and rumination. Utilizing a mixed-methods design, a qualitative case study and longitudinal study with two-time points were conducted to develop an understanding of the psychological processes related to gang involvement. Pattern-matching techniques and mixed analyses of variance (ANOVA) revealed that gang-involved participants suffered from higher levels of psychological distress and reported higher levels of depression, posttraumatic stress symptoms, moral disengagement, and rumination. Gang-involved youth also had higher levels of conduct disorder and exposure to violence, but they did not differ from non-gang youth on levels of emotional distress and feelings of guilt. The results suggest gang members may benefit from clinically tailored interventions to support their emotional, mental, and socio-cognitive needs. Implications regarding prevention and intervention efforts to tackle the effects of gang involvement, especially concerning the mental ill health and emotional well-being of gang members, are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Wood, Jane
Uncontrolled keywords: emotions, gangs, mental illness, moral disengagement, psychological
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 20 May 2020 09:10 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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