Hung Gao, a criminology professor at California State University Stanislaus, is beginning research on juvenile gang activity in the Central Valley.
It’s a shift for Gao, who spent seven years studying drug use among women in China, but local gang activity is a good topic for research, Gao said. Currently, very little research exists on gangs in the Central Valley, despite the location’s importance in drug trafficking.
"I hope my research on gangs in the Central Valley will help guide future anti-gang initiatives in the region," Gao said. "This is a major issue for our area and the nation, and one that will require serious thought and study if we are going to address it in a meaningful way."
Gao will interview justice agencies to learn more about gang members’ backgrounds, risk factors, territories, arrests and convictions. The Stanislaus County Probation Department is on board to help coordinate the study.
Four undergraduate research assistants will also help, using fluent Spanish to help gain the trust of Hispanic gang members.