Youth gang membership: mental health problems and perceptions of social support

Sandhu, Jagjit (2020). Youth gang membership: mental health problems and perceptions of social support. University of Birmingham. Foren.Psy.D.

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The focus of this thesis was to examine ways of better understanding the experiences and needs of gang members. Psychological theories of gang membership highlight the interaction between individual, peer, and sociocultural processes which occur in the context of the gang. As such, broadly speaking, each chapter considers one of these factors in turn.

Chapter 2 focuses on the individual-level factor of mental health problems. It is the first systematic literature review undertaken to date, which explores the association between mental health problems and youth gang members. A positive association was found between young male gang members and a range of mental health problems. Limitations are noted including the type of comparison samples used, variations in sample sizes and measurement instruments.

Chapter 3 relates to the impact of peer-related factors and presents an empirical study with gang-involved youth, based in London, United Kingdom (UK). Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), the study gained an in-depth understanding of the experiences of social support as perceived by five male gang-involved youth. Three superordinate themes were identified: “For me, it’s just how life was”; “The gang and I: A sense of belonging” and “Finding a new path”. The findings are discussed with respect to clinical implications, whilst outlining suggestions for further research.

Chapter 4 has a socio-cultural focus in that it provides a critique of Children’s Report of Exposure to Community Violence (CREV, Cooley, Beidel, & Turner, 1995) and the Children’s Report of Exposure to Community Violence-Revised (CREV-R, Cooley-Strickland et al., 2009); these are self-report screening tools which measure exposure to community violence in children. The critique concluded that the measures would benefit from wider sampling with different populations, including youth who are gang-involved, in addition to revising some of its items that affect the way it currently measures exposure to community violence.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Foren.Psy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Foren.Psy.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare


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