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Gang Resistance Education And Training



The Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program is a school-based gang and violence prevention program for children in the year immediately before the prime ages for introduction into gang and delinquent behavior. The curriculum is taught in entire classrooms of elementary and middle school students by uniformed law enforcement officers in a 13-week course. In addition to educating students about the dangers of gang involvement, the lesson content places considerable emphasis on cognitive-behavioral training, social skills development, refusal skills training, and conflict resolution. Thus, the curriculum aims to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors. The middle school curriculum consists of the following lesson topics and lesson content (http://www.great-online.org):

  • Welcome to G.R.E.A.T.—program introduction; the relationship between gangs, violence, drugs, and crime.
  • What’s the Real Deal?—message analysis; facts and fiction about gangs and violence.
  • It’s About Us—community, roles and responsibilities; what you can do about gangs.
  • Where Do We Go From Here?—setting realistic and achievable goals.
  • Decisions, Decisions, Decisions—G.R.E.A.T. decision-making model; impact of decisions on goals; decision-making practice.
  • Do You Hear What I Am Saying?—effective communication; verbal versus nonverbal communication.
  • Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes—active listening; identification of different emotions; empathy for others.
  • Say It Like You Mean It—body language; tone of voice; refusal skills practice.
  • Getting Along Without Going Along—influences; peer pressure; refusal skills practice.
  • Keeping Your Cool—G.R.E.A.T. anger management tips; practice cooling off.
  • Keeping It Together—recognizing anger in others; tips for calming others.
  • Working It Out—consequences for fighting; G.R.E.A.T. tips for conflict resolution; conflict resolution practice; where to go for help.
  • Looking Back—program review; “Making My School a G.R.E.A.T. Place” project.

The G.R.E.A.T. Program consists of four interrelated components each to target different audiences: a 13-session middle school curriculum, an elementary school curriculum, a summer program, and families training.

A rigorous, long-term, multisite evaluation of the middle school program commissioned by the National Institute of Justice was conducted from 2006 to 2012 in seven geographically and demographically diverse cities representing a cross-section of the United States. The investigators concluded: “Our multi-component evaluation found that the G.R.E.A.T. Program is implemented as it is intended and has the intended program effects on youth gang membership and on a number of risk factors and social skills thought to be associated with gang membership. Results one year post-program showed a 39% reduction in odds of gang joining among students who received the Program compared to those who did not and an average of 24% reduction in odds of gang joining across the four years post-program.”

Risk Factors


Antisocial/delinquent beliefs

Conduct disorders (authority conflict/rebellious/stubborn/disruptive/antisocial)

Early and persistent noncompliant behavior

Early onset of aggression/violence

Few social ties (involved in social activities, popularity)

General delinquency involvement

High alcohol/drug use

Lack of guilt and empathy

Low perceived likelihood of being caught

Low psychosocial maturity (low temperance, responsibility, and perspective)

Makes excuses for delinquent behavior (neutralization)

Physical violence/aggression

Poor refusal skills

Victimization and exposure to violence

Violent victimization


Low academic aspirations

Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school

Non-normative school transitions (i.e., changes due to residential moves or mid-year transfers)

Poorly organized and functioning schools/inadequate school climate/negative labeling by teachers

Trouble at school

Unsafe schools


Availability and use of drugs in the neighborhood

Feeling unsafe in the neighborhood

Low neighborhood attachment

Neighborhood youth in trouble


Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency

Association with gang-involved peers/relatives

Peer alcohol/drug use

Peer rejection


National Gang Center: Effective

Crime Solutions: Promising

Model Program Guide: Promising


G.R.E.A.T. Program Training Coordinator
Institute for Intergovernmental Research
Post Office Box 12729
Tallahassee, FL 32317-2729
Phone: (800) 726-7070
Fax: (850) 386-5356
E-mail: [email protected]


Esbensen, F.; Osgood, D. W.; Taylor, T. J.; Peterson, D.; and Freng, A. (2001). How Great is G.R.E.A.T.? Results From a Longitudinal Quasi-Experimental Design. Criminology and Public Policy, 1:87–117.

Esbensen, F.; Peterson, D.; Taylor, T.J.; Freng, A.; Osgood, D.W.; Carson, D.C.; Matsuda, K.N. (2011). Evaluation and Evolution of the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program, Journal of School Violence, 10:1, 53-70.

Esbensen, F., Peterson, D., Taylor, & Osgood, D. W. (2012). Results from a multi-site evaluation of the G.R.E.A.T. Program. Justice Quarterly, 29, 125-151.

Esbensen, F., Osgood, D. W., Peterson, D., Taylor, T. J., & Carson, D. C. (2013). Short and long term outcome results from a multi-site evaluation of the G.R.E.A.T. program. Criminology & Public Policy, 12, 375-411.

Date Created: April 7, 2021