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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Gang interrupted : an investigation of what helps and hinders girls’ prosocial connectedness Barrett-Wallis, Rebecca


Women and girls are being implicated in gang-related operations at alarming rates. Issues such as drug trafficking, sexual exploitation, gun violence and street entrenchment are of particular concern for this population. British Columbia has seen a rise in gang-associated violence and homicide directed at, or involving women over the last decade. Over a 3-month period in 2009, 4 women were reportedly killed due to their affiliation with B.C. gangs. The Surrey Wraparound Program (WRAP) a school-based Positive Youth Development (PYD) initiative, was established in 2009 in response to increasing gang-activity and youth crime in Surrey, B.C. The program aims to support youth at risk of gang involvement, youth displaying gang-associated behaviors, and youth currently involved in gangs, by attaching them to an adult mentor who works with the youth and their family to facilitate prosocial connections to five life domains: a) school b) community c) home d) peers and e) the self. A 2012 evaluation report determined the program to be effective in reaching its objectives with a predominantly male population (84%). However, within the last two years the program has dramatically increased its responsiveness to girls, with a nearly 50% increase in female clients. While this response is both urgent and timely, this important work has yet to benefit from local, evidence-informed research to shape and support its efforts. The present study contributes to this effort by making use of the Enhanced Critical Incident Technique (ECIT) to capture the voices of eight female identifying clients, and nine staff/ program affiliates who were asked to respond to the question: What has helped/hindered/would have better helped facilitate a) your prosocial connectedness? (clients) b) the prosocial connectedness of your female clients? (staff). Findings were organized into 34 categories: 15 demonstrated those incidents that were helpful to participants, 10 demonstrated those incidents that were hindering, and nine demonstrated wish list items across the two groups. Parallel analyses point to the effectiveness of using a relational/attachment model to inform strategies for gang prevention and intervention in female youth.

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