The least amount of change occurred in the largest cities and suburban counties, where gang activity remains most prevalent, while the greatest amount of change has occurred in rural counties and smaller cities—especially the latter, where the gang prevalence rate fell nearly 10 percentage points from 2010 to 2012.
Further, gang activity in smaller cities and rural counties is more likely to be transitory and unstable in nature, such that gang activity may emerge and dissipate in just a few years’ time.
Media reporting has a natural tendency to cover areas experiencing escalations in gang violence, sometimes directly or inadvertently creating the illusion that the upsurge is widespread and perpetual.
A sudden increase in gang activity—in particular, violent gang activity—in a geographic area (e.g., neighborhood) does not in and of itself indicate that a citywide, regional, statewide, or national increase is imminent.
First, it suggests a common feature of gangs: They commonly have a street presence.