El Salvador, as a country of the Northern Triangle, exhibits significantly higher rates of crime and delinquency than the rest of the Latin American countries (World Bank 2011). Mass media portray transnational youth gangs in marginalized communities in Central American nations, such as El Salvador, as one of the main factors responsible for the high levels of violence. Few studies have empirically studied active youth gang members and high-risk youth in these contexts. Among the studies that have accessed active youth gang members, the focus has been on problem behaviors and risk factors analyses; little is known about what variables appear to serve as protective factors for these youth. Based on a cross-sectional sample of high-risk youth and youth gang members (n = 184) between the ages of 13 and 25 living in 10 urban communities in San Salvador, this study used linear regression modeling to analyze protective factors for three outcome variables: aggression, violence, and delinquency. Results reveal that self-control and school motivation act as important protective factors across the three domains, while school behavior is a protective factor of aggression and delinquency. Implications for community-based prevention and harm reduction policies are discussed.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science