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Significant effort and resources have been directed toward decreasing gang membership and activity.Studies have suggested that comprehensive community-based programs are most effective.Successful programs generally have integrated strategies of community mobilization, youth opportunities, social intervention, suppression, and organizational change.
Often, gangs operated to defend and assert the interests of ethnic groups new to the local society or region; thus, the most visible and violent gangs in each period had their roots in the latest wave of immigration. law-enforcement officials contended that gangs posed a greater threat to public safety than ever before.
For example, Irish gangs were prevalent in the Gangs largely faded from the American landscape during the Great Depression and World War II only to reemerge in the late 1950s. Crime statistics in the 1990s suggested that gangs were responsible for a large percentage of homicide cases and for about two-fifths of illegal drug sales in urban areas.
There is no consensus on the exact definition of a gang, however, and scholars have debated whether the definition should expressly include involvement in crime.
Some gangs, but not all, have strong leadership, formalized rules, and extensive use of common identifying symbols.