Gang Resistance Education and Training Program

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Gang Resistance Education and Training Program
Alian Cruz
CRJ 305: Crime Prevention
Ann Meek
08 OCT, 2011

For my final paper I am going to talk about a program that in my eyes is a great way for our youth to receive different views and healthy choices when it comes to avoiding and confronting gangs or gang members. Gang Resistance Education and Training, abbreviated G.R.E.A.T., and provides a school-based, police officer instructed program that includes classroom instruction and various learning activities. The mission of the program is to provide a range of activities to our kids to keep them away from gangs or related activity as well as educate them on competency, usefulness, and personal empowerment which will prevent them from falling to the teeth of gang activity. The program originally began as a nine lesson middle-school curriculum. In early 1992, the first G.R.E.A.T Officer Program was conducted in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1993, due to its perceived success, the program was expanded nationwide and was congressionally supported as part of the ATF’s project outreach. During the duration of this paper, the reader will be able to understand what the program is all about as well as the goal of the program and the support that the program has received in the past. What is important after all is that in today’s society, we give our children the knowledge and the power to say no to gangs and teach them the right alternatives to choose from.

Individuals react negatively to the phrase gang through personal experience, media, music, and movies; however, what individuals see depicted is not necessarily the entire truth behind gangs. While a lack of consensus exists in identifying the sheer volume of the gang problem, many can easily identify and agree that a high rate of criminal activity exists among gangs and gang members (Esbensen & Osgood, 1999). Esbensen and Osgood (1999) state that in the 1990s gang membership and criminal activity of gangs had increased significantly. However, the question remains why are the number of gang members increasing even with information on how destructive gangs can be to an individual later on in life or how deadly they can be when faced with violence between rival gangs? One method of explaining the rise in activity is through social processing theories. Crime prevention programs that are student led tend to have a higher success rate. These programs help make the community and its schools safer by giving youths an opportunity to take charge in improving the overall safety of his or her school. Student led programs also strengthen the social bonds discussed through social learning and control theories. The majority of youths and their parents feel that school should be considered safe for the child; however, in 1998, the U.S. Department of Crime and Safety (2000) states that a student was two times more likely to become a victim of crime at school as opposed to his or her time away from school. The GREAT program is a nine week program that attempts to teach the youth methods of conflict resolution, cultural sensitivity, and the negative impact gangs have on life (Esbensen & Osgood, 1999). As the United States has progressed into the 21st century, one of the major problems identified in inner cities, smaller cities, and towns across the nation is gang violence. One may observe a connection between social learning theories and an individual’s interactions with local gangs. The goal of G.R.E.A.T is to prevent youth crime, violence, and gang involvement while developing a positive relationship among law enforcement, families, and young people to create safer communities. G.R.E.A.T is a program that is being exposed to our kids from Elementary school all the way through Middle school. The G.R.E.A.T. elementary curriculum is a skills-based curriculum designed as a precursor to the middle school curriculum. This component establishes the foundation that prepares children for the...
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