What works: Improving outcomes for children of gang-involved parents

Date published
22 Jun 2015
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Research Summary

This paper presents what we know about interventions and strategies to improve outcomes for children with gang-involved parents.

The findings of this paper indicate that comprehensive, multi-faceted interventions are more likely than narrowly focused approaches to be effective in addressing the social harms associated with gangs, including improving outcomes for the children of gang-involved parents.

What works: Improving outcomes for children of gang-involved parents found that children of gang-involved parents are at greater risk of being abused, neglected, exposed to violence between parents, entering into the youth justice system and joining a gang.

Based on available evidence, the paper was unable to conclude whether having a gang-involved parent was an independent risk factor for negative outcomes for the child.  However, it is likely that children growing up in a gang-involved family have greater exposure to risk factors known to be associated with poor life outcomes.

At present, there is only a small body of evidence on the impacts of gang membership on the children of gang members. More primary research is needed in order to better understand the direct impacts on children’s health, wellbeing, education, employment outcomes and criminality into adulthood. 

This information is provided to inform social sector decisions - about funding, policies and services – to help to address the wider context of New Zealand families with multiple complex problems and improve the lives of families and whānau.

Reducing the social harm to families and children connected with gangs is a key focus in the 2014 Whole-of-Government Action Plan to Reduce the Harms caused by New Zealand Adult Gangs and Transnational Crime Groups.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this research, please contact enquiries@superu.govt.nz.

Last update: 12 May 2016