Gang membership of California middle school students: behaviors and attitudes as mediators of school violence
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Empirical evidence examining how risk and protective behaviors may possibly mediate the association between gang membership and school violence is limited. This study utilizes a statewide representative sample of 152 023 Latino, Black and White seventh graders from California to examine a theoretical model of how school risk (e.g. truancy, school substance use and risky peer approval) and protective (e.g. connectedness, support and safety) behaviors and attitudes mediate the effects of gang membership on school violence behaviors. The dataset was collected in the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 academic school years using the ongoing large-scale California Healthy Kids Survey conducted by WestEd for the State of California. Approximately 9.5% of the sample considered themselves to be a member of a gang. The findings indicate that school risk behaviors and attitudes mediate the association between gang membership and school violence behaviors. Although the direct negative association between gang membership and school violence perpetration is weak, the positive indirect effect mediated by school risks behaviors and attitudes is strong. This indicates that when gang members engage in school risk behaviors, they are much more likely to be school violence perpetrators. Implications for further research, theory and practice for both gang and school violence researchers are discussed.
author list (cited authors)
Estrada, J. N., Gilreath, T. D., Astor, R. A., & Benbenishty, R.