California State University, Stanislaus criminology professor Haun Gao has recently begun conducting research on juvenile gang activity in the Central Valley. Using information gathered from interviews, and from local and county criminal justice agencies, Gao seeks to obtain information regarding gang members’ backgrounds, risk factors, territories, arrests and convictions.
Gao reported to CSU Stanislaus that due to the Central Valley’s location on the drug trafficking route from Mexico, and it’s own issues with club drugs and increasing gang activity, the Central Valley is ready for extensive criminology research.
“I hope my research on gangs in the Central Valley will help guide future anti-gang initiatives in the region,” stated Gao to CSU Stanislaus. “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 also reported that research on gangs and gang related activity is scarce within the Central Valley. Gao also studied the issue of drug use among women in her native country of China, a field that was similarly neglected. When she returned to China as a Rutgers University Ph.D. student in 2005, she interviewed 90 women during her first trip, and returned to China for an additional 41 interview and re-interviews after becoming a professor at CSU Stanislaus within the Criminal Justice Department.
She published her fist book in 2001, entitled “Women and Heroin Addiction in China’s Changing Society” and returned to China that year to focus on club drugs, such as ecstasy and methamphetamine, which were growing in popularity and attributing to criminal activity.
Gao received the Wang Family Faculty Award – which provides $10,000 stipends per year to allow CSU professors to teach and conduct research at universities in China – and used the stipend to finish her research on club drugs.
As for her research within the Central Valley, Gao will employ four CSU Stanislaus undergraduate students as research assistants. Gao stated that as some of them speaks Spanish fluently, they will be able to help communicate with and gain the trust of Hispanic gang members in the Central Valley.
The Stanislaus County Probation Department is also working with Gao to help coordinate the study. If further research funding becomes available and secured, Gao also hopes to expand the study to both San Joaquin and Merced counties as well.
For more information regarding California State University Stanislaus, please visit www.csustan.edu.