Source: Kunal Mehta
Seeking a Secure base: gangs as attachment figures
De Vito, K. (2019). Seeking a secure base: Gangs as attachment figures. Qualitative Social Work. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1177/1473325019852659
Attachment theory has the utility to add to the existing knowledge base about gang membership. Gangs can take the place of family for some at-risk youth. Those who do not have a secure attachment and secure base with a primary caregiver will look to fill that void elsewhere (Ainsworth, 1989; Bowlby, 1988). Adolescents form attachments to peers (Ainsworth, 1989). One form of peer group is a gang. Gangs can become that replacement or surrogate family. This qualitative research project explored: How did the childhood experiences of former gang members shape their decisions to join a gang? What factors contribute to former gang members’ decisions to disengage from gang membership?