Katz, C.M. and Fox, A. (2010). “Risk and protective factors associated with gang involved youth in a Caribbean nation: Analysis of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Survey.” Pan-American Journal of Public Health/ Rev Panam Salud Publica , 27 (3): 187-202


Objectives. To examine the prevalence of gang involvement, the risk and protective factors
associated with gang involvement, and the association between gang involvement and exposure
to multiple risk and protective factors among school-aged youth in Trinidad and Tobago.

Methods. A survey instrument was administered to 2 206 students enrolled in 22 highrisk,
urban public schools, from March–June 2006. It measured 30 risk factors and 13 protective
factors within four domains: community, school, family, and peer-individual, plus levels
of alcohol/drug use and delinquency.

Results. About 7.7% of youth reported being a gang associate; 6.8%, a former gang member;
and 6.2%, a current gang member. Gang involvement was associated with perceived
availability of handguns, residential mobility, having parents who favor antisocial behavior,
early initiation of antisocial behavior, intention to use drugs, having antisocial peers, and having
peers who use drugs. Those with social skills, belief in moral order, and interactions with
prosocial peers were significantly less likely to self-report gang membership. Additionally, the
probability of gang involvement increased as the number of risk factors increased.

Conclusions. Gang membership among public school youth is about as prevalent in Trinidad
and Tobago as it is in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, but further research
is needed. Although risk factors associated with gang involvement were present in all four domains,
peer-individual risk factors were disproportionately likely to be associated with gang status.
The most effective gang prevention strategies might be those that focus on multiple risk factors,
with an emphasis on peer-individual factors and promoting a “belief in moral order.”

Year: 2010
Language: English
Type: Journal article