Addressing Juvenile Gang Related Crime

Addressing Juvenile Gang Related Crime

CRJ300 – Introduction to Criminal Justice

Juvenile gang violence continues to grow, impacting youth and families all across the United States. This is an issue that needs to be addressed, but in order to do that we need to understand the causes of juvenile gang involvement. There are many factors that lend to school age youths choosing to become gang members. Some of those factors include their social skills, their parental figures/guardians, and the neighborhoods they grow up in. I have reviewed the juvenile gang related crime that has become increasingly apparent in this town and recommend three possible initiatives/programs that should address these issues.

Gang Resistance Education and Training Program

Gang Resistance Education and Training Program, or GREAT, was established in 1995 as an educational program directed at children. The program promotes the importance of good social behaviors as social behavior is a huge element of determining gang membership. Research on social constructs and gang initiation has determined that the most effective approach to reducing youth and adult gang related crime is to simply discourage children and young people from joining gangs in the first place (David-Ferdon & Simon, 2014).

The GREAT program involves uniformed officers teaching different key points to middle school students over the course of a year. Since its creation, GREAT has evolved into a well respected and evidenced based prevention program that now caters to elementary schools, summer programs and also involves parents. The main goal of GREAT is to foster sustainable and positive relationships between the youth of the community and the law enforcement professionals that serve them. To assist in furthering prevention, Great has partnered with many well known organizations which have encouraged positive collaboration among the community, schools, parents, and law enforcement agencies (David-Ferdon & Simon, 2014).

Youth Violence Reduction Strategy

Youth Violence Reduction Strategy, or VRS, is designed to reduce gun violence and gang violence through positive and effective communication. This strategy is aimed at delivering a message to juveniles, and gang members in general, that gun violence is not necessary. The way that this initiative works is by frequent “check-ins” by phone calls or meetings (Papachristos & Kirk, 2015). The main message of this program is to step away from using guns and has shown to be effective in states that utilize this program.

This can be a very effective program because sometimes gang members are looking for someone to care about them; they are looking for a sense of family or a connection that they had been denied prior to joining a gang. Finding someone to confide in about daily street struggles can be very effective, and the use of phones instead of one-on-one interaction can help gang members open up without feeling pressured. Finding a mentor through this program can help gang members re-evaluate their decisions before engaging in violent activities (David-Ferdon & Simon, 2014).

Strengthening Families Program

The Strengthening Families Program, or SFP, was developed in the 1980s by Karol Kumpfer. This program focuses on 3 different, and important areas: Parent-Youth Relationships, Mindfulness in Parenting, and Adolescent Skills. Teaching parents to be mindful when interacting with their children can be one way to improve the quality of parent-youth relationships. In turn, this can positively affect youth psychological development. The goal of SFP is to strengthen those parent-youth relationships that socialize healthy adolescent skills, values and behaviors (Coatsworth, et al., 2014). This program can be effective because it allows and encourages children and parents to get involved in one another’s life in healthy ways. Mindful parenting interventions have become increasingly popular as a strategy for reducing youth behavior problems, enhancing parent-child relationships, and fostering parents’ well-being (Coatsworth, et al., 2014).

In closing, gangs are a very dangerous and often expensive problem for cities all across the United States. Gangs need to be dealt with more because typically they get bigger when they are left unchecked. After reviewing the needs of this city and the types of juvenile crimes that have been reported, there are three programs that are recommended to address this issue: Gang Resistance Education and Training Program, Youth Violence Reduction Strategies and the Strengthening Families Program. These programs are focused on prevention and enforcement, understanding and family support, and have shown results in slowing and even preventing youths from joining gangs.


Coatsworth, J. D., Duncan, L. G., Berrena, E., Bamberger, K. T., Loeschinger, D., Greenberg, M. T., & Nix, R. L. (2014, November 1). The Mindfulness-enhanced Strengthening Families Program: integrating brief mindfulness activities and parent training within an evidence-based prevention program. Retrieved October 19, 2019, from

David-Ferdon, C., & Simon, T. R. (2014). Preventing Youth Violence: Opportunities for Action. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Division of Violence Prevention. doi:

Papachristos, A., & Kirk, D. (2015). Changing the Street Dynamic: Evaluating Chicago’s Group Violence Reduction Strategy. Criminology and Public Policy, 14(3), 525–558. doi:

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