Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



In recent years, both the media and the research literature have noted an increased presence of street gangs in non-metropolitan and rural communities. An initial step in the investigation of this phenomenon is to gauge how the members of these communities react to increases in gang activity. This study was conducted in a small (approximately 20,000 citizens) Kentucky town identified by its police force as having a sizable gang population. Individuals from three groups within the community who have frequent, direct contact with gang members (police officers, teachers, and students) look part in the study. Participants completed questionnaires designed to measure their general perceptions of the gangs, the factors associated with gang development. and the community·s response to the gang presence. Perceptual differences and similarities regarding the topics were found between the groups. These differing perspectives may provide greater insight into possible strategies for combating gang-related delinquency and diverting children away from the negative aspects of gang involvement.


Criminology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Regional Sociology | Rural Sociology