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Why Youth Join Gangs

Levels of Gang Involvement

Girls and Gangs

Girls and Gangs Videos

Girls and Gangs

"Our position is to be their girlfriend, and be the one selling drugs, giving it to other people or just be their b****. (It’s) them having you under their arm, trying to think they’re cool because they have a girl and that girl is going to be stupid enough to be there and just do what the guys tells you to."
--Female youth, Santa Cruz County

What Roles Do Girls Play in Gangs?

Girls participate in gangs in two different ways: the supportive role and the active role. In the supportive role they can be a friend, girlfriend or family member to a male gang member and may hide weapons or drugs, drive the getaway car or deliver messages for the benefit of the gang. In the active role girls are members of an all-female gang where their activities often mirror that of their male counterparts which include selling narcotics, committing acts of violence and committing other crimes for the benefit of the gang.

Girls and Gangs Videos

How Do Girls Join the Gang?

There are several ways girls can join a gang: getting jumped in (being attacked by several members for a specific amount of time), committing crimes or being sexed in (having sexual intercourse with multiple male members of the gang).


Depicted in the photographs above are young women representing "NSWH / Northside Watson Hynas," a Norteña girl gang in Watsonville. The tattoo on the young woman's neck is of the Mayan symbol for the number 14.

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