Psychosocial interventions preventing gang-related crime among children and young adults under the age of 30

Research shows that there are available interventions involving authorities such as social services that can reduce firearm violence, gang involvement and criminal activity among young people.

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SBU Assessment

Presents a comprehensive, systematic assessment of available scientific evidence for effects on health, social welfare or disability. Full assessments include economic, social and ethical impact analyses. Assessment teams include professional practitioners and academics. Before publication the report is reviewed by external experts, and scientific conclusions approved by the SBU Board of Directors.

Aim

To assess the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions in preventing gang membership and gang-related crime among children and young adults under the age of 30.

Background

In recent years, gang related shootings and explosions have increasingly attracted attention in Sweden as well as internationally. Organized crime is considered as one of the most important societal problems.

Method

We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions targeting universal, selective, and indicated populations published between 2000 and April 2023. The included studies had a low to medium risk of bias. The certainty of the evidence for outcome measures was assessed according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation System. Different effect measures were calculated.

Results

We included 43 (7 randomized, 15 nonrandomized and 24 Interrupted time series) studies evaluating 33 unique psychosocial interventions. Synthesis without meta-analysis found a preventive effect of psychosocial interventions in middle-schools on gang membership. Furthermore, meta-analysis found that Focused deterrence strategies prevented gang-related violence, and that psychosocial support during probation decreased crime recidivism. Meta-analysis found no significant effect of mediation or Drug market interventions on gun-violence compared to control conditions. However, Drug market interventions significantly prevented drug-related crime.

Ethical and social aspects

Key ethical considerations that should be addressed are the effectiveness of the intervention, risks of burdens, stigmatization and discrimination of the innocent, and reduced trust in the society. Outside the Swedish prison and probation service, coercion, and intrusion of a person´s integrity should be minimized.

Discussion

This systematic review found significant effects of four interventions compared to control in reducing future criminality, especially gun-violence, among children and young adults under the age of 30. To be confident that the results from these interventions are not only restricted to USA, the interventions should be studied in other countries. We also discuss the ethical and practical implications of the present findings for crime prevention.

The full report in Swedish

The full report in Swedish, Psykosociala insatser för att förebygga och minska gängkriminalitet bland barn och unga vuxna

Published: Report no: 369 Registration no: SBU 2022/20 ISBN: 978-91-987554-6-6 https://www.sbu.se/369e

Project group

Experts

  • Amir Rostami, Professor, University of Gävle
  • Manne Gerell, Associate Professor, Malmö University
  • Joakim Sturup, Ph.D., Swedish Police Authority
  • Caroline Mellgren, Associate Professor, Malmö University
  • Christian Munthe, Professor, University of Gothenburg
  • Thomas Hartvigsson, PhD, University of Gothenburg
  • Johan Bring, Associate Professor, Statisticon AB

SBU

  • Knut Sundell, Project Manager
  • Uliana Hellberg, Assistant Project Manager
  • Jessica Dagerhamn, Assistant Project Manager
  • Sara Fundell, Project Administrator
  • Ann Kristine Jonsson, Information Specialist
  • Malin Höistad, Project Assistant
  • Maral Jolstedt, Project Assistant
  • Lena Wallgren, Project Assistant
  • Elizabeth Åhsberg, Project Assistant
  • Sofia Tranæus, Program Director
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