SPOKANE, Wash. -- Each year, about one out of every 20 kids, ages 10 to 17, is arrested in Washington state. Most of the arrests are for property crimes or violations involving drugs or alcohol.
Spokane Public Schools, the city and law enforcement have partnered together to make sure local students are not part of that statistic. One way they are doing that is through the Gang Resistance Education and Training program.
School Resource Officer Ed Richardson is one of three school resource officers leading the GREAT program lessons. It is meant to teach students how to make good choices when it comes to peer pressure, bullying and gangs. The Spokane Public Schools received a federal grant to bring the program into its sixth-grade classes.
“It's great to talk to the kids how and before they reach the middle school level where they understand 'hey' we need to make better choices in life and make sure we are not doing things we not going to make us successful," Richardson said.
They have group discussions, writing assignments and even do some role playing of real life scenarios. While they are learning how to make good choices in their lives, they are also building positive relationships with those who serve and protect their communities.
"I tell the kids, 'Hey, this is just a uniform I'm a human being under this.’ I have to demonstrate I am a caring person. I'm a compassionate person with our students,” Richardson said.
The City of Spokane received a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention $290,832 for two years. City leaders said the objective for the grant is to increase collaboration between schools, law enforcement, juvenile court, social service agencies and businesses to provide prevention and intervention programs to youth.