Gang-related crime is a growing problem, high on the political agenda. Not unexpectedly, there is a demand for more knowledge in this field.
– Problematic juvenile street gangs have been discussed for a long time both in research and in the media. Recently, this problem has become increasingly visible, especially in Sweden. In research as well as in politics, there is a great need to look more closely at gang-related crime to enable society to tackle the problems in its policies, says Erik Häggström, programme director of criminology at the University of Gävle.
Part of an international research project
Together with his colleagues Amir Rostami and Lars Westfelt, Erik Häggström participates in a new research project called “Street Gang Involvement Among Nordic Youth: A comparative study on prevalence and risk factors in Nordic countries.” Its purpose is to study how common youth gang involvement is among Swedish youth and to explore their attitudes to criminal gangs.
The project is part of the international research project “International Self-Report Delinquency Study” (ISRD) that studies juvenile delinquency, victimisation, and drug habits in a large number of countries. The project aims to select two cities in each Nordic country and a total of 9,000 schoolchildren will be asked to answer questions in a questionnaire.
– This is one of few studies in the field on this scale. The great advantage is the collaboration between the Nordic countries, which will enable us to compare results between the countries, Erik Häggström says.
Will gain knowledge about underlying factors
In addition to examining the prevalence of gang-related crime among adolescents, the researchers will study if social marginalisation and a selection of risk factors may explain this type of crime.
– Hopefully, we will gain knowledge not only about how common it is, but also about which underlying factors that may be important. In this way, we will increase our knowledge of the problem so that we can how work pro-actively, says Erik Häggström.
Text: Anna Sällberg