Local police and schools team up for new gang prevention program
On Wednesday, March 24, the Santa Cruz Police Department, with the support of Santa Cruz City Schools, announced plans to launch a new gang prevention program.
Modeled after a Southern California program that targets at-risk youth and their families, the Personally Responsible Individual Development in Ethics (PRIDE) program seeks to educate Santa Cruz youth about the risks of gang activity. The 10-week program will inform the adolescents and their parents about the outcomes of good and bad decision-making in an interactive way. The first five weeks will focus on the consequences of bad decisions; participants will listen to talks from former gang members and drug users and will take field trips to a state prison and local morgue. The following five weeks will concentrate on good decision-making. During the final half of the program, the students will interact with positive role models such as professional athletes and elected officials. Meanwhile, parents will learn methods to effectively support and monitor their children.
Santa Cruz gang activity has garnered increased attention recently in light of several high profile incidents, including the murder of a local high school student last fall. Furthermore, gang activity is commencing at younger ages. The PRIDE program aims to combat and alleviate early gang participation, according to SCPD Spokesman Zach Friend. The first batch of students and parents in the program will come from Branciforte and Mission Hill middle schools.
Friend noted that PRIDE’s Southern Californian predecessor has achieved success. Students who participated in the program had notably improved test scores and higher graduation rates. Participants have also remained active in the community as volunteers. PRIDE will be the first program of its kind in Northern California and the Central Coast.
The first informational meeting for the PRIDE program was held on Tuesday, March 29. .