Youth gangs are a serious issue throughout the country because of the negative consequences they have in the society. Other than threatening public safety, the gangs destroy young lives not only in large cities, but also in several small urban and rural areas. The gangs may be a manifestation of extreme economic and social distress in disadvantaged environs. As a result, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has developed gang reduction programs aimed at addressing the issue of youth gangs (National Gang Center, 2012). This paper presents an analysis of Los Angeles Gang Reduction Program (GRP), pointing out its fundamental characteristics and how it can help juveniles.
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GRP is “situated to east of Los Angeles, 3 miles from its business district within the Boyle Heights region” (National Gang Center, 2012). This region is inhabited by a large immigrant population entailing mostly of residents from Central America and Mexico. On the other hand, the region has five main gangs. It is essential to mention that the Boyle Heights region has various churches, grassroots community groups, health providers, youth centers that have been participated in gang intervention and prevention activities (National Gang Center, 2012).
GPR deals with a population aged from 10 to 22 years. The program has classified the gangs’ involvement risk factors into five main groups including individual, family, school, community and peer (National Gang Center, 2012). Individual risk factors include high drug involvement, illegal ownership of guns, and violence among others. Family risk factors entail poverty, poor parenting and history of crime among others. According to GRP, school risk factors include low commitment, poor attitude, and negative labeling by instructors at school among others. On the other hand, community factors include availability of guns, high-crime areas, and exposure to racial prejudice and violence among others. Finally, peer risk factors include gang membership, peer drug and alcohol use and association with gang-involved peers among others.
The program is extremely helpful to juveniles because it has gang prevention and intervention strategies that have proved effective (National Gang Center, 2012). GRP’s prevention activities aimed at offering youth support and alternatives to reject or prevent gang involvement entail:
- After-school programs for middle and elementary school children at high risk of gang association.
- Childhood and parental help for high-risk mothers to decrease risk aspects linked to gang participation (National Gang Center, 2012).
- Intensive case supervision for families and youth living in the target region entailing mentoring for high-risk boys aged 10-14.
- Gang awareness education for parents, inhabitants, businesses and learning institutions.
The program case-manages reentry and intervention activities by a multidisciplinary group. As a result, they offer other intervention programs to help youth in the gangs such as:
- “Conflict resolution and anger management” (National Gang Center, 2012)
- Vocational and educational training
- Removal of tattoos
- Group and individual counseling for substance abuse and behavior among other needs.
GRP coordinates to carry out suppression activities in the target region with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Community Law Enforcement and Recovery (CLEAR) Program. CLEAR helps in community awareness, and enforcement and prosecution of the embattled gang.
To sum up the whole discussion, gang reduction programs are effective in reducing juvenile gang involvement. For instance, GRP has attained full and successful implementation mainly as a result of strong program leadership and dynamic participation among all partners and contributors towards the program. Such programs, especially GRP use outcome measures such as gang-related incidents and incidences, vandalism calls, shots fired calls, and severe violence occurrences among others. Findings indicate that, after implementation of the program, the number of calls reduced considerably (National Gang Center, 2012). On the other hand, the program significantly reduced violent gang crimes in the region. Gang reduction programs are, therefore, very crucial in reducing the number of youths in gang involvement not only in America but throughout the whole world.
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