January 16, 2014
14-9

Malynda Dorsey
Communications Specialist

VSU Hosts Seminar on Confronting Gangs

VALDOSTA – Valdosta State University will explore the most relevant research on gangs and gang policy during a seminar titled “Confronting Gangs: Gang Risk Factors, Gang Membership, Crime and Community”, to be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 in the Jennett Lecture Hall.

During the seminar, Dr. Scott H. Decker, foundation professor and director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University, will provide a comprehensive presentation on the characteristics of gang members and gang behavior. He will also talk about current policies, research and gang responses.

"Students, instructors, parents, families and community, along with school administrators and law enforcement alike will benefit from Dr. Decker's decades of expertise about gang risk factors,” said Dr. James Martinez, assistant professor of education at VSU. “Correcting outdated perceptions of gang member stereotypes as inner-city, black and Latino males from low income, single-parent homes, Dr. Decker provides what is known about youth gangs today."

Martinez added that Decker has been researching gang activity for the past 20 years. He holds a Ph.D in Criminology from Florida State University and has also been named a fellow by the American Society of Criminology for his scholarship contributions as well as his role in career development for criminologists.

The seminar is part of a project by Martinez, along with Dr. Jeremy Tost, assistant professor of psychology and counseling, and Dr. Larry Hilgert, associate professor of psychology and counseling. The $7,496 project, titled “Gang Risk Factors and Academic Achievement”, is funded by VSU’s Faculty Research Seed Grant Program. It is based on research that investigates the interrelationship of gang membership, risk factors and demographic variables to academic achievement. Co-investigators in the research include Dr. Shani Wilfred, associate professor of criminal justice; Dr. Sonya Sanderson, associate professor of physical education; Dr. Peggy Moch, professor of math; Dr. Heather Kelley, assistant professor of psychology and counseling; Dr. Ann Unterreiner, assistant professor of early childhood  and special education.

Decker’s presentation is sponsored by the Dewar College of Education and Human Services and Dr. Brian Gerber, interim dean of the college.

To learn more about the seminar or the project, contact Martinez at jammartinez@valdosta.edu.