Evaluation and Evolution of the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program
The Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program is a school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curriculum. The program, whose primary objective is prevention, is intended as an immunization against delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership. G.R.E.A.T. lessons focus on providing life skills to students to help them avoid delinquent behavior and violence to solve problems. The G.R.E.A.T. Program is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a component of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), U.S. Department of Justice. Since its inception in 1991, more than 12,000 law enforcement officers have been certified as G.R.E.A.T. instructors, and more than 6 million students have graduated from the G.R.E.A.T. Program.
In 2006, following a competitive peer review process, the National Institute of Justice awarded the University of Missouri–St. Louis funding to conduct the National Evaluation of the G.R.E.A.T. Program. The evaluation follows more than 3,800 students in seven cities across the United States through six waves of data collection. The program evaluation began in 2006 and is scheduled to conclude in 2012.
Preliminary results from a seven-city experimental evaluation of the revised G.R.E.A.T. Program (one-year post-treatment) are positive overall. The program appears to have short-term effects on the intended goals of reducing gang involvement (but not general delinquency) and improving youth-police relations (more positive attitudes about police), as well as on interim risk or skills. Specifically, compared with non-G.R.E.A.T. students, the G.R.E.A.T. students were more likely to report more frequent use of refusal skills, greater resistance to peer pressure, less positive attitudes about gangs, and lower rates of gang membership.
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