Mayor Peggy Lemons


1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

Gang affiliation and activity is a significant source of school violence on today's school campuses. Students who are affiliated with gangs are often involved in violent confrontational incidents with other gang involved students at school. In order to effectively deal with school violence, student's affiliation and involvement with gang activity should be addressed. The City of Paramount's Gang Resistance Is Paramount (GRIP) program seeks to address youth gang activity by preventing youth from joining gangs and/or becoming involved in gang activity.

The GRIP program has 4 components: a 10- lesson second grade elementary school anti-gang program; a 15 lesson fifth grade gang resistance program; a ninth grade follow-up program; and parent/community gang prevention meetings. The elementary school anti-gang and gang resistance lessons, as well as the ninth grade follow-up program are taught by city employees in the City's public schools. The goal of the school presentations is to teach the students about the negative consequences that their involvement in gang activity can have on their lives, and the other options that are available for them. Curricula, posters, and student workbooks were developed by the City of Paramount for utilization in the GRIP program.

Parent/community gang prevention meetings are also scheduled and conducted throughout the community by city employees. The aim of these meetings is to provide parents with information about gang activity and strategies for keeping their children out of it.

2. When was the program created and why?

Formerly called the "Paramount Plan: Alternatives to Gang Membership," the GRIP program was introduced to the community in 1982 in response to the citizens of Paramount expressing their concerns to the Paramount City Council about youth gang activity in the community. Research conducted by City employees, which included surveys of residents and actual gang members, revealed that the City needed to initiate a program to prevent children from joining gangs. Thus the Alternatives To Gang Membership (now GRIP ) program was born.

3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?

Touted as a model gang prevention program GRIP has been replicated by many other agencies across the nation. In Paramount, more than 32,025 children have participated in the program. Over 400 neighborhood meetings have been held, and attended by 10,000 parents.

The program has undergone five separate monitoring studies. The first study tested elementary school students before and after participation in the program. Prior to participation, 50% of the students were undecided about gang involvement, but after participation, over 90% responded negatively toward gangs. Also using a pre/post test design, the second study included a control group which was not exposed to the program. Unlike the group that participated in the program, the control group showed no change in their attitude toward gangs (50% undecided) over the same period of time.

The third study tested 7th grade students that participated in the program in the fifth grade, and showed that 90% still responded negatively toward gangs. The fourth study tested 9th graders that had participated in the program in the 5th grade, and showed that over 90% of the students indicated that they were staying out of gangs. The final study followed-up with 3,612 former program participants, 13-22 years old, and found that 95% were not identified as gang involved.

4. How is the program financed?

From its inception the GRIP program has been funded entirely from the general fund of the City of Paramount. The FY 1999 budget allocation for the GRIP program is $263,000, which includes $251,000 for salaries and benefits for four full time employees and $12,000 for program materials and operational expenses.

5. How is the community involved in the program? How has the community responded to the program?

The GRIP program emanated from a local governing body, the Paramount City Council, responding to community concern regarding youth gang activity in the community and its effect on students on the school campuses. It is conducted through cooperation from another local community entity that impacts a majority of Paramount children and their parents, the Paramount Unified School District. Community involvement is further evidenced by the amount of children who participate in the program, and the parents who attend the GRIP gang prevention parent meetings. The program has also engendered the support of a number of local church pastors, who have allowed the GRIP staff to use their churches to conduct parent /community gang prevention meetings. In addition the program enjoys the support of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department who provide law enforcement service to the city of Paramount.

6. Contact person:

Tony Ostos

GRIP Program Manager

City of Paramount

16400 Colorado Avenue

Paramount, CA 90723

Phone: (562) 220-2120

FAX: (562) 630-2731

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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