Helping At-Risk Youth Say "No" to Gangs

Helping At-Risk Youth Say "No" to Gangs


National Institute of Justice


Brian Higgins

An NIJ-funded evaluation finds that a revised curriculum and greater attention to teacher training have resulted in an improved program for preventing gang membership and delinquency. The Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program is teaching kids to avoid gang membership and helping them develop positive relationships with law enforcement, according to a recent national evaluation. The program is designed to give at-risk youth the skills they need to resist pressure from gangs and avoid joining them. Results from a national evaluation conducted from 1995 to 2001 found that the program reduced several risk factors associated with gang membership and delinquency, but the evaluation found no differences between G.R.E.A.T. and non-G.R.E.A.T. youth in either gang membership or involvement in delinquent behavior. Based on these findings, the curriculum was rewritten to emphasize classroom participation and skill-building exercises to address known risk factors for gang involvement. The new curriculum was piloted in 2001, with full-scale implementation in 2003. Results from the latest national evaluation show that the program was implemented as intended and that schools received it well. The evaluation also found that the new curriculum resulted in several improved outcomes.

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