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Gang Resistance Is Paramount

Ages 7-16

Rating: Level 3


Gang Resistance Is Paramount (GRIP), originally Alternatives to Gang Membership, began in 1982 in an attempt to curb gang membership and discourage future gang involvement in Paramount, Calif. The program’s objectives are to educate students about the dangers of gangs, discourage the city’s youth from joining gangs, educate the students’ parents about the signs of gang involvement, and provide parents with the resources that will help them eliminate gang activities in their homes and neighborhoods. GRIP staff are familiar with gang activity, but avoided gang involvement. Most of them community members who live or have lived in Paramount. Their training is updated continually, and the program has had low turnover.

GRIP has five elements:

  • A school-based curriculum, consisting of 26 to 29 lessons, for second and fifth graders. The second graders are taught about peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, self-esteem, family, crime, gangs and territory, and gangs and vandalism. They are discouraged from joining a gang through video presentations, coloring exercises, songs, and discussion of alternatives to gangs such as recreational activities. Fifth graders review topics such as the danger of many gang activities and alternatives to gang membership. Gang membership is discouraged through the promotion of recreational activities, video presentations, current event discussions, and open dialog between students. An in-school follow-up program in the ninth grade caps the program. Topics such as drugs, alcohol, high school dropout, teen pregnancy, self-esteem, the consequences of a criminal lifestyle, higher education, and career opportunities are discussed.
  • Parent education in the form of neighborhood meetings where parents are taught about the warning signs of gang involvement and provided with the tools to keep their children out of gangs. Handouts are given in both English and Spanish and include everything from information on programs and activities at the city’s recreation department to information about tattoo removal programs and graffiti hotline numbers.
  • Counseling of parents and youths regarding the youths’ gang activities. Sessions are set up by request or referral and occur in the parents’ home, over the phone, or in-office.
  • Recreational activities are offered. Sports, classes, special events, and programs specifically for teens are provided, during which gang clothing is not allowed.
  • Neighborhood Watch meetings are combined with the parent meetings, during which information handouts on city services is provided.
GRIP has undergone six separate studies. The first two tested elementary students before and after participation in the program. Prior to the program, 50 percent of students were undecided about gang involvement, after participation 90 percent responded negatively toward gangs compared to a control group who showed no change over that time period. The third and forth studies surveyed seventh and ninth graders who had participated in the program, both showed that 90 percent still had negative attitudes toward gangs. The fifth study cross-checked the names of program participants with police records and found that 96 percent were not identified as gang members.


The most recent GRIP evaluation used a nonrandomized posttest design. An anonymous survey was administered to 735 ninth graders in Paramount before the start of GRIP lessons. The survey asked the students if they had previously participated in the GRIP program and what their experience was with gang activity. It also asked them to read a series of statements pertaining to gangs and then asked if they agreed, disagreed, or were undecided about each one. There were 505 students who had participated in GRIP in the second, fifth, or both grades; 209 students ended up in the control group saying they had never participated, while 21 students did not answer the question. Seventy-eight percent of the sample is Latino, 10 percent African-American, 2 percent Asian-American, 1 percent white, and 8 percent answered “other” (mostly citing Hispanic or Puerto Rican as their ethnicity).


The evaluation showed that only 6 percent of ninth graders who had participated in GRIP reported being involved in gang activity compared with 9 percent of youths in the control group. Of the males who reportedly participated in gang activity 52 percent had participated in GRIP, whereas 71 percent of the females had participated in the program. This shows that females may not relate to the curriculum as much as males.

The biggest difference between the groups manifested in perceptions of drugs and alcohol in gang life: 72 percent of GRIP participants felt that it was a significant part, while only 57 percent of nonparticipants felt this was so. Overall both groups displayed levels of antigang sentiment when it came to questions about safety, tattoos, graffiti, and violence. Both groups also responded favorably to the importance of high school, not getting arrested, making sure family members did not join a gang, and not hanging out with or dressing like gang members. The majority of each group realized that family and friends would be affected if they joined a gang and reported that they would not join a gang if their friends did.

Risk Factors


  • Favorable attitudes toward drug use/Early onset of AOD use/Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Lack of guilt and empathy
  • Poor refusal skills
  • Victimization and exposure to violence


  • Broken home
  • Family history of the problem behavior/Parent criminality
  • Family management problems/Poor parental supervision and/or monitoring
  • Family transitions
  • Having a young mother
  • Low parent education level/Illiteracy
  • Sibling antisocial behavior


  • Low academic achievement
  • Negative attitude toward school/Low bonding/Low school attachment/Commitment to school


  • Availability of alcohol and other drugs
  • Availability of firearms
  • Community crime/High crime neighborhood
  • Economic deprivation/Poverty/Residence in a disadvantaged neighborhood
  • Neighborhood youth in trouble


  • Association with delinquent and/or aggressive peers
  • Gang involvement/Gang membership

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • High expectations
  • Perception of social support from adults and peers
  • Positive expectations / Optimism for the future
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Strong school motivation / Positive attitude toward school


  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Prosocial opportunities for participation / Availability of neighborhood resources
  • Safe environment / Low neighborhood crime


  • Good relationships with peers
  • Involvement with positive peer group activities


Arnette, June Lane, and Marjorie C. Walsleben. 1998. “Combating Fear and Restoring Safety in Schools.” Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Solis, Angelica, Wendy Schwartz, and Tamika Hinton. 2003. “Gang Resistance Is Paramount (GRIP) Program Evaluation: Final Report Oct. 1, 2003.” Los Angeles, Calif.: University of Southern California, USC Center for Economic Development.


Tony Ostos, Manager
Gang Resistance Is Paramount Program
16400 Colorado Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
Phone: (562) 220-2120
Fax: (562) 630-2713
Web site:

Technical Assistance Provider

Tony Ostos, Manager
Gang Resistance Is Paramount Program
16400 Colorado Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
Phone: (562) 220-2120
Fax: (562) 630-2713
Web site: