The myth of Australia’s migrant youth gang: examining the perceived association between ethnicity and gangs

Kathryn Benier, Angela Higginson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In Australia, as with other countries around the world, migrant young people receive significant media and political attention as the alleged perpetrators of significant criminal activity. This has been a consistent feature over time, with ‘Asian gangs’ in the 1990s in the US, UK and Australia, ‘Middle-Eastern gangs’ around the time of 9/11, ‘Turkish gangs’ and ‘Albanian gangs’ in the UK and Europe, and ‘African gangs’ in Australia since the early 2000s. In this research, we investigate the risk factors associated with youth gang membership in Australia. Using data from the Australia Youth Safety Survey from 2,945 young people aged 14–25 years, we examine the importance of first- and second-generation migrant status on gang membership. After controlling for known risk factors, we find that migrant status was not a predictor of gang membership. Results offer important insights into the prominence of morality and self-control as protective factors against youth gang membership, and speak to the role of neighbourhood context in which the young person lives.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Australia
  • ethnicity
  • prejudice
  • Youth gangs

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