Date of Award
Morgridge College of Education, Counseling Psychology
Ruth Chu-Lien Chao
Counseling, Gang desistance, Gang member interviews, Gangs, Grounded theory, Youth
Very little research exists regarding the psychological impacts of gang membership and the mental health needs of gang members. Of the few studies that have been conducted, gang members were found to have increased rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (1.77 odds), current substance abuse (2.58 odds), oppositional defiant disorder, (1.24 odds) and conduct disorder (4.05 odds) (Harris, Elkins, Butler, Shelton, Robles, Kwok, Simpson, Young, Mayhew, Brown, & Sargent, 2013). Violent ruminative thinking, violent victimization and fear of further victimization were also significantly higher in gang members and believed to account for high levels of psychosis and anxiety disorder in gang members (Coid, Ullrich, Keers, Bebbington, DeStavola, Kallis, Yang, Reiss, Jenkins, & Donnelly, 2013). A gap remains in the gang literature for the role of psychology generally, as well as research focusing on the psychological implications of gang membership, and the mental health needs of former gang members. This study will address these gaps and add to the current gang desistance literature by focusing on the psychological process involved with gang desistance using a qualitative approach. The primary purpose of this grounded theory study is to understand the psychological process an individual experiences when leaving a gang.
11 youth associated with the gang prevention program GRASP, and who identified as former gang members, or in the process of leaving the gang, were interviewed. The study aimed to create a model representing the psychological process a former gang member experiences after deciding to leave the gang and end their gang ties, as well as to better understand the specific mental health impacts for this population. In the resulting model, Negative Impacts on Mental Health falls under the Core Category: Living with Continuous Internal Struggles and Emotional Discord. Youth described various negative impacts on their mental health, including experiencing stress and anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, trauma symptoms, and the impact of grief and loss.
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Alana C. Liskov
Received from ProQuest
Liskov, Alana C., "What Happens Next? A Grounded Theory Exploration of the Psychological Impact of Leaving the Gang" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1786.