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Has G.R.E.A.T. been proven effective?

The National Institute of Justice commissioned a nationwide long-term evaluation of the G.R.E.A.T. Program in 2006. Led by the University of Missouri-St. Louis, this rigorously designed, double-blind, multisite study of the G.R.E.A.T. middle school curriculum concluded in 2012. This evaluation follows an earlier (1995−2000) study that returned promising but inconclusive results and led to a rigorous programmatic review that resulted in substantial program modifications. Results of the current study are currently undergoing final analysis and peer review before full publication of the results and conclusions. However, articles by the evaluation team examining data from the one-year post-program follow-up have been published in professional journals, and the investigators recently released a report discussing the initial analysis of the full study. Digital copies of all reports and journal publications related to the evaluation can be found on the University of Missouri-St. Louis Web site at http://www.umsl.edu/ccj/About%20The%20Department/great_current.html.

The most recent report notes that at both the one-year and four-year post-program surveys, the G.R.E.A.T. students, compared to non-G.R.E.A.T. students, showed statistically significant positive program effects on the following measures:

  • More positive attitudes toward police
  • More positive attitudes about police in classrooms
  • Less positive attitudes about gangs
  • More use of refusal skills
  • Higher collective efficacy
  • Less use of hitting neutralizations
  • Less anger
  • Lower rates of gang membership
  • Higher levels of altruism
  • Less risk-seeking

The report concludes: “Our multicomponent evaluation found that the G.R.E.A.T. Program is implemented as it is intended and has the intended program effects on youth gang membership and on a number of risk factors and social skills thought to be associated with gang membership. Results one year post program showed a 39% reduction in odds of gang joining among students who received the Program compared to those who did not and an average of 24% reduction in odds of gang joining across the four years post program.” ¹

¹ Finn-Aage Esbensen, Dana Peterson, Terrance J. Taylor, and D. Wayne Osgood. 2012. Is G.R.E.A.T. effective? Does the program prevent gang joining? Results from the National Evaluation of G.R.E.A.T. St. Louis, MO: University of Missouri-St. Louis.

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