The metropolitan community of Chattanooga, Tn is presently experiencing increasing gang activity. However, until recently the issue hasn’t been acknowledged as a community threat, but street gangs such as the Bloods and Crips have been a menace to Hamilton County, particularly the inner-city neighborhoods of Alton Park, Avondale, East Chattanooga, and Westside for years. Reports from Hamilton County Schools suggest that gang activity is spreading outside of these neighborhoods. The Chattanooga Police Departments failure to address the growing issue has allowed gangs to enter schools where now over seven-hundred students self-identify themselves as active gang members. Students acknowledge gangs are a “culture,” with the indication of fear and strong concerns about personal vulnerability. As a result of community officials neglecting the problem, residents have lost faith in the local law enforcement, in part to no improvements to these neighborhoods in the past decade. To date, there is no system wide initiative combating youth gang involvement in Chattanooga. Therefore, its essential careful consideration and planning are used when implementing the G.R.E.A.T. program into the Hamilton County Schools and community.
Research conveys the majority of youth gang activity in Chattanooga is reported by secondary education employees, over 74% reporting known gang members. Conveying the Gang Resistance Education and Training or (G.R.E.A.T) program would benefit HCS the most by concentrating on elementary and middle education. Particularly the middle schools that feed the most "at risk" high schools. By addressing adolescents ages nine to fourteen, helping them develop life skills that will assist them in recognizing and avoiding gang involvement and violent behavior will establish a foundation to build safer communities. The Utilization of a community wide approach, efforts from specialists amongst the Hamilton County school system, local recreation centers, churches, CPD, and attorneys are needed to combat the risk factors associated with youth gang involvement. The success of the G.R.E.A.T. program relies on this mutual commitment between the above mentioned agencies, uniting to accomplish a common goal. Implementing a successful program in the HCS includes:
Assembling a core group to set visions and goals
Address all resources needed for the program
Developing a plan that balances the...