Youth Culture

2019

Assessment of Youth Gangs in the Dominican Republic

With the aim of providing the evidence needed to develop strategies for prevention and reduction of potentially negative impact of youth gangs on health and quality of life of adolescents and youth in the Dominican Republic, this study employed Rapid Assessment Process (RAP) methodology to describe and analyze social and health-related dynamics of these organizations. Qualitative data extracted from bibliographic sources and interviews with subject-matter specialists, provided a context for interpretation of quantitative information obtained through anonymous electronic surveys with youth gang members, conducted using the REDCap secure platform. Study findings suggest that youth gangs and other street organizations might play a significant role in the socialization of children and young people in socially marginalized and vulnerable communities, and that their potentially negative impact should be analyzed and addressed on individual bases, considering the level of organizational structure and tolerance of violent and antisocial behaviors observed in each one of them. In some cases, these organizations could become important allies in interventions aimed to reach and promote the quality of life, healthy lifestyles and social wellbeing of young people in vulnerable and underserved communities.
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