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The frequency of this transitory pattern suggests that the emergence of gang activity does not necessarily indicate a protracted presence over time.
These trends represent reliable findings, which can be used to characterize the gang problem as a whole.
More recently, discovered involvement of one or a few gangs in criminal offenses that have been considered atypical of street gang criminal behavior is getting national attention.
The term “street gang” is often used interchangeably with “youth gang” as well as “criminal street gang,” with the latter explicitly denoting the element of criminal activity found almost universally in gang-related legislation.
However, the term “street gang” carries two specific meanings that increase its practical value.
There is no single, generally accepted definition of a “gang.” State and local jurisdictions tend to develop their own definitions.
Between 19, the National Youth Gang Survey (NYGS) provided the only national data source for assessing long-term and annual changes in the gang problem across the following areas: (1) the emergence, presence, and stability patterns of gang problems within jurisdictions over time (prevalence measures); and (2) the relative size of the problem across such indicators as the number of gangs, the number of gang members, and the number of gang-related homicides and other crimes (magnitude measures).
In terms of the prevalence measures, the latest estimate from the NYGS finds that gangs are present in approximately 30 percent of the jurisdictions across the United States.
Second, this term also refers to “street crimes,” that is, serious and violent crimes (e.g., assaults, drive-by shootings, robberies, homicides) that occur on the streets and that often are of concern to citizens and policymakers.
The ongoing commission of these offenses consequently instills fear among residents, undermining informal social control mechanisms within the community.