Associations between Long-Term Gang Membership and Informal Social Control Processes, Drug Use, and Delinquent Behavior among Mexican American Youth

Alice Cepeda, Jarron M. Saint Onge, Kathryn Nowotny, Avelardo Valdez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Research has found that among juveniles weak ties to informal social control entities such as parents, school, and conventional peers increase the probability of the initiation and continuation of deviant behaviors such as drug use and crime. Given the weak ties of formal social control mechanisms in highly disadvantaged communities, informal social control mechanisms are often an important deterrent that reduce or moderate engagement in deviant behaviors among serious and persistent offenders. This analysis examines the association between long-term gang membership and adolescent informal social control processes, drug use, and delinquency. This research is based on data from a study of 160 Mexican American male gang members between the ages of 16 and 20. Findings suggest that among gang members in this context, commonly studied informal control mechanisms such as the family and schools do not function to deter long-term gang membership that is associated with serious criminal and violent behavior and drug use. The implications for future research on desistance or continuation of antisocial behavior across the life course are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1532-1548
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • deviant behaviors
  • drugs
  • gangs
  • informal social control
  • juvenile delinquency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology

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