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Teen gangs

Teenage gangs are becoming an increasing threat to the safety of responsible teens and to the futures of young people drawn into gangs. Increasing gang activity is reported even in prosperous communities like Boca Raton, Florida, and Santa Barbara, California.

In March, 1994, "local youth gang experts" estimated that Broward had 30-40 gangs (with up to 60 smaller, less developed gangs) and as many as 3000 youths affiliated with a gang (including youths classified as associates or "wannabe's" who had not yet reached full membership).

In December, 1993, 63 youth gangs were charted by Broward County law enforcement agencies throughout the County. Gang infiltration was discovered in 18 Broward cities and in unincorporated Broward County. Some type of gang activity was found in almost every community within Broward County.

Police estimates show an enormous increase in street gang activity in Broward County since organized gangs were first detected in 1987, when there were an estimated 5 gangs. In 1995, that estimate had increased to 60 gangs in Broward County.

From an interview of 50 randomly selected Broward County youth who were active gang members during late 1992 and 1993, the respondents, representing a cross-section of 23 different gangs, reported that:

89% of their fellow gang members had been arrested at least once since joining;

66% of respondents had been arrested 1-10 times (average 8); of these, almost two-thirds had been arrested for at least one violent felony crime;

76% sold drugs (of these, 38% reported they sold drugs on a daily basis);

47% admitted they personally owned at least one gun (of these, almost 91% of the weapons were more lethal than small-caliber handguns); and

two-thirds admitted that most of their fellow gang members owned guns.

(from the Interim Report of the Broward County Grand Jury, Fall Term, 1993, on Youth Gang Investigation).

"Six percent (of murders in the U.S. in 1995) were juvenile gang killings, which were up 38% over the past 5 years." 96% of juvenile gang killings in 1995 were by means of firearms. (FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, 1995, pages 17, 20, 21, 58).

Trends in Indexed Crimes

Total number

  1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
Juvenile gang killings 840 813 1145 1157 1157
Total murders 21676 22716 23180 22084 20043
Total indexed crimes 14,872,900 14,438,200 14,144,800 13,989,500 13,867,100

% change vs. 1991

  1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
Juvenile gang killings   -3.2 36.3 37.7 37.7
Total murders   4.8 6.9 1.9 -7.5
Total indexed crimes   -2.9 -4.9 -5.9 -6.8
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