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Protecting youth from gang membership: Individual and school‐level emotional competence


The current study examined the association between adolescent emotional competence, operationalized and measured at both the individual and the school levels, and gang membership. The study involved a sample of 12,040 students (51.4% females; mean = 16.9 years) participating in the biennial state department of education coordinated California Healthy Kids Survey, which assesses a range of adolescent health-related behaviors. Hierarchical linear modeling indicated that higher levels of individual emotional competence were associated with a lower likelihood of identifying as a gang member. Moreover, a stronger negative association between emotional competence and identifying as a gang member was found when emotional competence was operationalized at the school level. Implications include the role of schools in promoting emotional regulation, empathy, and behavioral regulation of their entire student body as part of an overall strategy to reduce individual student's attraction to gangs.

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