Columbia, SC (WLTX) The Gang Resistance Education And Training program, or G.R.E.A.T. for short, graduated 30 children Friday, the first summer graduating class from the "Show Them We Care" after-school center in an apartment complex in Columbia.
G.R.E.A.T. is a national gang, violence, and bullying prevention program that's usually taught in schools by law enforcement officers. It's aimed at preventing delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership.
Tamarika Roberts had two daughters graduate Friday, 10-year-old Dayonie and 7-year-old Ariyanna. She says, "They learned leadership qualities, they learned how to avoid negative things and how to handle situations in which they encounter that peer pressure, gang violence, drugs, anything negative."
G.R.E.A.T. teacher Robert Snipes, who's the intake supervisor for the state Department of Juvenile Justice in Richland County, says DJJ numbers show the program reduces the number of elementary and middle school students who run away from home, skip school, and misbehave in class. "It reduces the triggers that gets kids involved with gangs," he says.
A national study by the U.S. Department of Justice found that the G.R.E.A.T. program is effective in reducing the likelihood a child will join a gang, increases children's positive views of police, and decreases children's positive views of gangs.