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            Why Do Female Youths Join Gangs? Female youths join street gangs on the basis of gender conflict, lack of family support and violence in their lives. Through adolescence young females have a much harder time than young males dealing with family, sexuality and the harsh reality of living in the urban ghetto. Young females who must endure these facets of life have little opportunity to succeed. Consequently, these young women turn to a replacement family, a place where they feel they are needed and loved and can escape reality, even if momentarily. This type of place is in the common street gang. Presently, inner city minorities are hopelessly discriminated and isolated from economic opportunity. Young females see society as having nothing to offer young minority women. Neglected communities with high crime and a lack of resources force young females to turn to others in the same situation for support. Thus, they develop an exaggerated sense of belonging and gain excitement lacking in their lives (Chesney-Lind 53). According to Thornberry there are three types of models that account for gang membership: selection model, social facilitation model and enhancement model. Female membership seems to fall into the selection model. The selection model states that gangs only recruit or associate with already delinquent persons (Dukes, Martinez, Stein 143). In 1994 "females accounted for 24% of all juvenile arrests" (Chesney-Lind 11). Also, female gang members show higher levels of delinquency than non gang members (Curry 12). However, they do not necessarily influence members once in the gang. Such as many researchers have found; once in a gang, female members are not expected to involve themselves in delinquency. Recent estimates of female gang involvement have shown a tremendous increase in female membership. These increases have become great enough to turn researchers attention to female gang members.

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