The Campbell Collaboration
Angela Higginson, Kathryn Benier, Yulia Shenderovich, Laura Bedford, Lorraine Mazerolle, Joseph Murray
Campbell Systematic Reviews 2015:18
01 Nov 2015
10 Feb 2016
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- Preventive interventions to reduce youth gang violence in low- and middle-income countries – (Article)
Youth gang membership and the crime that it generates is a serious problem in low- and middle-income countries, involving many thousands of young people and resulting in billions of dollars of crime, loss of life, and social disruption. This review assessed the evidence on preventive interventions that focus on increasing social capacity to reduce gang membership or rehabilitate gang members outside of the criminal justice system.
The authors conducted an extensive search of the published and unpublished academic literature, as well as government and non-government organization reports to identify studies assessing the effects of preventive youth gang interventions in low- and middle-income countries. They also included studies assessing the reasons for success or failure of such interventions and conducted a thematic synthesis of overarching themes identified across the studies.
The review did not identify any studies assessing the effect of preventive gang interventions in LMICs using an experimental or quasi-experimental design. Four studies evaluating the reasons for implementation success or failure were included. The limited number of studies included in the review suggests that the findings identified here should provide a direction for future research, rather than any substantive or generalisable claim to best practice. Specifically, the synthesis of reasons for implementation success or failure identified five factors that may be important for intervention design and implementation.
Preventive gang interventions may be more likely to be successfully implemented when they include:
- a range of program components that appeal to youth
- active engagement of youth, where their agency is embraced and leadership is offered
- programs that offer continuity of social ties outside of the gang, and
- a focus on demobilization and reconciliation