Currently, youth gangs are difficult to define because the nature and behavior of gangs vary considerably from one geographic area to another. However, the term "youth gang" is used to distinguish it from "street gangs" who are groups of adults engaged in criminal activities.
Youth gangs are generally a loose organization of three or four young people between the age of 12 and 24 who usually have a name for the gang as well as distinctive clothing and hand signs. Gang membership is more or less permanent and is often characterized by delinquent behavior. (Powell and Egley, 2007)
Youth gang activities were surveyed between 2002 and 2005 and the average number of gangs is 25,000 nationwide. For this period, the National Youth Gang Survey Analysis came up with the following statistics:
When adult supervision, traditionally found in the home or at school, is alienating, ineffective or absent, the chances are the youth will form into groups to establish some structure, usually at a common place of congregation such as the public park or community center. Many of these young people are left to their own devices and have much time on their hands. When a group of young people has few opportunities for future careers, this tends to solidify the group's identity into a gang. There is no nationwide trend for the surge or ebb of youth gang activity, although larger cities appear to have a stable, persistent problem with gangs while rural and suburban counties report variable bouts of gang problems. (Powell and Egley, 2007)
The 2001 National Youth Gang Center (NYGC) reported that 67% of gang members in large cities (New York, Rochester, Washington, Denver, Colorado and Seattle) were 18 and older while 17% were under 14 years old. Most of the surveyed