Childhood Trauma among Mexican American Gang Members and Delinquent Youth: A Comparative Exploratory Study

Alice Cepeda, Avelardo Valdez, Kathryn Nowotny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Abstract: This paper examines the association between childhood trauma and gang membership. Specifically, this study compares histories of potentially traumatic events as assessed by the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire among a street-recruited random sample of Mexican American male gang members and a matched comparison group of delinquent youth. The gang and delinquent youth samples are then compared to normative samples of adolescent male psychiatric inpatients and male undergraduates. The findings show that gang members generally report experiencing lower levels of childhood trauma compared to those in the sample of delinquent youth. In fact, gang members' levels of childhood trauma more closely resemble those of the undergraduate sample. However, this analysis suggests that gang membership, and delinquency in general, may be associated with physical neglect.



  • childhood trauma
  • delinquency
  • gangs
  • Mexican American youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Law

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