Gang Resistance is Paramount
Remember being a middle school student? Feeling awkward? Dealing with a changing body, changing emotions, changing priorities? What would you have done to feel accepted…to have a group of people who would always protect and care for you? Some kids would do just about anything.
Anyone who knows (or has been) a pre-teen or young teenager knows that these years are an extremely impressionable time. Young people want to fit in with their peers, and as a result, they can make choices that follow them for the rest of their school years and into adulthood.
Young people who excel at academics, are socially adept, engage in activities they enjoy, and have the support of family and friends can often handle the pressures of middle school.
However, those who struggle in school, are socially awkward, and have trouble developing healthy relationships sometimes look to drugs and other dangerous activities to escape, or to be included and accepted. Joining a gang can seem very appealing.
In 2004, to combat the allure of gang life, the Mendocino County Public Health Department, the Ukiah Police Department and the Ukiah Unified School District began participating in a national program called GRIP, which stands for "Gang Resistance is Paramount." Eight years later, in thanks to support from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the Ukiah, Willits, and Fort Bragg Police Departments, GRIP has expanded and nearly all public school students in Mendocino County have access to GRIP.
GRIP provides age-appropriate information in the classroom about gang culture and the many negative impacts of gang membership. It also imparts lessons about bullying and peer pressure. In UUSD schools, the Ukiah Police Department provides the annual funding for presenting GRIP to fifth graders, and an Ukiah police officer helps present a portion of the training. By teaching fifth graders
before they reach middle school, kids are better equipped to recognize and handle new pressures. Over the last eight years, more than 6,000 Mendocino County students have benefited from GRIP.
As parents, many of us struggle with our pre-teen and teen children. The relationship becomes strained and it might be tempting to disengage. Don’t! Your influence now can change the course of your child’s life. Here are warning signs that your child may be involved in gang activity. Your child:
Admits to hanging out with kids in gangs
Shows unusual interest in one or two particular colors of clothing or a particular logo
Has unusual interest in gangster-influenced music, video, movies or websites
Uses unusual hand signals to communicate with friends
Has specific drawings or gang symbols on school books, clothes, walls or tattoos
Comes home with unexplained physical injuries (fighting-related bruises on hands or knuckles)
Has unexplained cash or goods, such as clothing or jewelry
As parents, the best way to help kids stay away from gangs is to share the dangers of gang involvement and to provide appealing alternatives. This is also true for us as community members. Pay attention to dramatic changes and ask questions so you can help local youth make positive choices. If you have questions about GRIP, either ask your fifth grade teacher or contact the Ukiah Police Department. Let’s keep our kids and our community safe and gang-free.
To watch our video on GRIP please click on the following link: