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Authors

  1. Akiyama, Cliff MA, MPH, CGS, CGP

Abstract

Youth gang violence has continued its upward trend nationwide. It was once thought that gangs convened only in selected areas, which left churches, schools, and hospitals as "neutral" territory. Unfortunately, this is a fallacy. The results of gang violence pour into hospitals and into intensive care units regularly. The media portrays California as having a gang violence problem; however, throughout the United States, gang violence has risen more than 35% in the past year. Youth gang violence continues to rise dramatically with more and more of our youth deciding to join gangs each day. Sadly, every state has gangs, and the problem is getting much worse in areas that would never have thought about gangs a year ago. These "new generation" of gang members is younger, much more violent, and staying in the gang longer. Gangs are not just an urban problem. Gang activity is a suburban and rural problem too. There are more than 25 500 gangs in the United States, with a total gang membership of 850 000. Ninety-four percent of gang members are male and 6% are female. The ethnic composition nationwide includes 47% Latino, 31% African American, 13% White, 7% Asian, and 2% "mixed," according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice. As a result of the ongoing proliferation of youth street gangs in our communities, it is imperative that critical care nurses and others involved with the direct care become educated about how to identify gang members, their activities, and understand their motivations. Such education and knowledge will help provide solutions to families and the youth themselves, help eradicate the problem of gang violence, and keep health care professionals safe.