Gang Resistance Is Paramount (G.R.I.P.)

In an attempt to curb gang membership and discourage future gang involvement, the city of Paramount, CA, initiated the G.R.I.P. program, formerly known as Alternatives to Gang Membership, which combines the resources of families, schools, and local government. The program attempts to discourage future gang membership by teaching children the harmful consequences of this lifestyle and by persuading them to choose positive alternatives.

Initiated in 1982, the program includes three major components. The first involves neighborhood meetings that provide parents with support, assistance, and resources as they try to prevent their children from joining gangs. These meetings, conducted in both English and Spanish, often use audiovisual materials and focus on educating parents about gang activity, increasing family involvement, supporting sports and recreation programs, and increasing neighborhood unity to combat gang proliferation.

The second component comprises a 15-week course for fifth grade students and a 10-week course for second grade students. The lessons deal with graffiti, peer pressure, tattoos, the impact of gang activity on family members, drug abuse, and alternative activities and opportunities.

Finally, a school-based followup program is implemented at the ninth grade level to reinforce what children learned in the elementary grades. The program builds self-esteem and also focuses on the consequences of a criminal lifestyle, the benefits of higher education, and future career opportunities.

This program has undergone five separate studies. The first tested elementary students before and after participation in the program. Prior to participation, 50 percent were undecided about gang involvement, but after participation, 90 percent responded negatively toward gangs. The second study, also using a pre/post design, replicated the results of the first. However, this study included a control group that was not exposed to the program; this group showed no change in their attitudes (50 percent undecided) over the same period of time. The third and fourth studies surveyed seventh and ninth graders, respectively, who had participated in the fifth grade program; 90 percent (from both studies) indicated that they still had negative attitudes about gangs or stayed out of them. The final study cross-checked the names of 3,612 former program participants with local police records and found that 96 percent were not identified as gang members.

For more information, contact Tony Ostos, Neighborhood Counseling Manager, G.R.I.P., 16400 Colorado Avenue, Paramount, CA 90723-5050, 562-220-2140.

Combating Fear and Restoring Safety in Schools Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  April 1998