Contemporary Issues in Juvenile Justice


Cohen's subculture of delinquency theory (1955) posits that male youth gangs exist largely as the result of the status frustration experienced by rejected adolescents in their search for middle class acceptance. Cohen concluded that social and structural factors, particularly neighborhood and school environments, impacted youth gang prevalence. While many studies related to the existence of youth gangs have been conducted, few have focused specifically on female youth gangs. In the current study, an examination of female youth gangs was conducted using self-report data gathered for the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997-2001). Contrary to arguments that gendered-specific criminological theories are needed to explain female gangs, the findings presented here show that the factors suggested by Cohen's theory are applicable to membership in female gangs.