Typically a group of young people, preteens, teenagers, young adults, with a loose-knit, rather than closely cohesive, social structure. Members provide mutual support and engage collectively in behavior that may be benign or malicious, involving petty or major crime. Young people who become members of street gangs may be initiated in health-harming habits, including tobacco, alcohol, and substance abuse and sexual promiscuity. Intervention by social workers, school teachers, and local public health departments may direct a gang's energies toward more socially desirable ends, such as helping to care for isolated elderly housebound people.
Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.