Can Employment Opportunities Reduce Youth Gang Violence?

As a young adult, whenever I see a news article or a new study surface about youth gang violence, I always become curious about the factors that influence a youth’s involvement in this area of violence. I think this curiosity arises from the fact that I have never directly been exposed to gang violence. However, it’s apparent that youth gang violence is a safety concern nationally. The main question being, how can youth involvement in gang violence most effectively be addressed?

During the week of February 24, 2013, a group of community organizers, in the San Francisco Mission District, came together to discuss strategies to end gang violence among the district’s youth. The community members involved are part of a coalition called the Mission Peace Collaborative, and the meeting’s primary focus was to come up with a policy proposal to get youth ‘off the streets’ through employment opportunities. The idea is that youth-centered employment activities decreases this group’s likelihood of being on the streets and engaged in gang-related violence and criminal behavior (Hernandez, 2013).

Indeed, providing employment opportunities to youth at-risk of becoming involved in gang violence has been shown to decrease gang-related criminal activity among participants of a violence reduction program, in Chicago, called the Gang Violence Reduction Program (Spergel, n.d.).  This positive approach to preventing youth gang violence seems promising in that employment opportunities can provide these at-risk youth with professional skills, a sense of responsibility, and financial incentive.

Providing resources to at-risk youth seems to be a promising strategy. The work of the Mission Peace Collaborative is a good example of how community members can collaborate cohesively to address youth violence through policy change. To find out more about this community’s work, go to for additional information.


R. Hernandez. (2013, March 4). Organizers want jobs for youth to curb gang violence. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Spergel, I. A. (n.d.). Gang Violence Reduction Program. Retrieved from