Guns and Gangs

Abstract

The Guns and Gangs measure is a 30-item instrument based on a measure used in a previous study (Dodge, Pettit, & Bates, 1995). Fast Track's version was added to the child instrument battery in study Year 8 (end of Grade 7). The measure assesses life-time and recent involvement in gangs and use of weapons within the past year (i.e., small knife, large knife, and gun). For weapons use, specific questions assess greater detail if a subject indicates that a weapon is owned (i.e., have they carried it, pulled it on someone, or hurt someone with it).

For most items in this instrument, there is no obvious scoring. Most constructs are naturally dichotomous (e.g., are you a member of a gang? do you own a gun?) or are scaled to indicate a range of answers. This measure involves a difficult skip pattern, of which the analyst should be aware. Only students who reported having been in a gang were asked subsequent questions about that gang. They were asked the name of the gang in an open-ended question, the number of members in the gang (measured on a three-point scale ranging from 1=1-5 to 3=more than 10), when they joined that gang (measured on a 4-point scale ranging from "this year" to "more than two years ago"), and their position in the gang (measured on a 4-point scale ranging from "leader" to "just hang out"). Likewise, only if students indicated that they had never been in a gang were they asked if they knew anyone or were friends with anyone in a gang, and how much pressure they got to join a gang (measured on a 4-point scale ranging from "none" to "A lot"). Only if the students indicated "yes" for owning a small pocket knife, a big knife, or a gun that is not for hunting, were they asked subsequent questions about whether they carried it, pulled it on another person, or hurt someone with it in the past twelve months. Students who indicated that they did not own a small pocket knife, a large knife, or a gun were only asked whether they could get one. Finally, students were asked whether any adults in their home owned a gun. Only students who indicated that someone owned a gun were asked subsequent questions about their use of the gun.

Most items are straightforward in use and interpretation. The low number of subjects that reported having been in a gang by this age or owning a gun indicates that this measure should be used with caution when assessing gang involvement or gun use.

Dataset Names

Raw Dataset Name: CyW
Scored Dataset Name: GAGySCc

Keywords

Gang Involvement, Gun Use, Weapons, Gun Ownership.