University of Pittsburgh
October 18, 2009

Pitt Lecture to Focus on Communitywide Approach to Solving Gang Problem


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-Once considered an urban phenomenon, today gang violence has extended into the suburbs and is permeating many aspects of American life. This growing problem will be the focus of a lecture by Irving Spergel, George Herbert Jones Professor Emeritus in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. It will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at Pitt's Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP), School of Social Work Conference Center, 20th floor, Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland. It is part of the Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC Fall 2009 Speaker Series.

Spergel's talk, "The Youth Gang Problem: A Comprehensive Communitywide Approach," is free and open to the public. Registration is not required, and lunch will be provided. For more information, call 412-624-7382.

Spergel's approach to the gang problem, referred to as The Spergel Model, calls for a coordinated response from law enforcement, community groups, social services, and government organizations. Having won the endorsement of the U.S. Department of Justice, the plan is being tested in 20 American cities. Its use in Chicago resulted in a 40 percent decrease in violent crimes among young people.

Spergel helped form one of the country's earliest organized responses to youth gangs. He was a member of the New York City Youth Board in the late 1950s when it worked to reduce gang tension by building long-term relationships with gang members and providing them with constructive activities.

Spergel's book, "The Youth Gang Problem: A Community Approach" (Oxford University Press, 1995), is considered to be a leading work in the study of gangs. Overall, he has authored more than 100 books, articles, and other publications.