Girls move up in gang world

VV Daily Press | February 06, 2011

Drive-bys, drug sales, stealing cars, tagging and murder. What was once a mainly male-dominated area of the gang world has been opening up to more and more women and girls.

Nearly 30 percent of girls in high-risk and high-crime neighborhoods claimed gang membership, according to a 2008 report from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention — the most recent report available.

While membership appears to have increased, FBI officials note that female-only gangs are still rare, but the roles of women and girls in male gangs have increased.

“Drugs, sex, shootings, taggings, crime — they do it all,” said Rosie, who spent most of her life in an East Los Angeles gang along side her late husband. Her name has been changed to protect her and her family.

“The number of violent crimes committed by females under the age of 22 in the United States has risen 300 percent in the past 10 years,” said Dawn L. Brown, executive director of Gangs and Girls, a non-profit organization focused on helping girls stay out of gang life.

Local officials have seen women and girls becoming facilitators for the gang, especially when the men are in prison.

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