GRYD Programs Decrease Crime Rate
Community Build’s Gang Reduction Youth Development (GRYD) Prevention program was started in 2011 by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office in order to reduce violent crime in Los Angeles. Since the inception of the program, crime in the city has declined by 40 percent in the 12 GRYD zones.
The GRYD program is especially useful in the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw community because there are 18 gangs in the 10-mile radius, according to LAPD officials.
Using a revolutionary two-fold approach to handling gang-related crime, GRYD not only helps gang members successfully leave gang-life, but also gives children who may be thinking about joining a gang healthy alternatives, said Kathleen Houston-Berryman, director of the GRYD Prevention program in Crenshaw.
Now that the GRYD Prevention and Intervention programs are working together to improve violent crime in Crenshaw and Baldwin Hills, even the most pessimistic residents of the neighborhood are noticing some positive changes.
“It’s gone down – the killing – a little bit less,” said Ayobar Rahman, a long-term resident of Crenshaw and LAPD skeptic. “But other than the killing nothing else has changed.”
While the prevention program in the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw neighborhood may be one of the newer GRYD programs, it is already making an impact on the lives of the 10- to 15-year-old youth population that it serves.
In February, some of the youths involved in the program flew to Sacramento to visit the state Capitol.
“For all of them it was their first time on a plane,” Berryman said. “It puts into young people what it takes to change in legislature. The lieutenant governor even gave each of them the most beautiful certificate.”
Occasional trips aside, the program is mainly focused on a localized approach to helping the younger generation on a day-to-day basis.
The 10- to 15-year-olds participate in after-school activities, such as leadership seminars at the GRYD Prevention office located in the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw plaza, as well as in outside activities, like club volleyball or martial arts lessons, at venues in the immediate neighborhood.
The program stresses how important it is for youth in the community to find an after-school activity that they are passionate about and can pursue during times when school is not in session.
“Crime usually goes up in the summer when high school students are out of school and rival gang members see each other,” Zamora said.
As the staff has also learned in the past six months, in order to better help the community, they need to do more than just get the youths themselves involved in after-school and summer activities.
“We are moving into family-center training,” Houston-Berryman said. “We expanded because it’s empowering the family and helping the family with their dreams and their hopes and how to capture that.”
The GRYD staff believes that the family is often the key to the success of the youth both in the program and also in life.
“Sometimes the parents think they’ve failed because they’ve had two older kids who have joined a gang, and so they think their youngest will too,” said Houston-Berryman, who is helping to kick-start the initiative. “So we help families become resilient. Everybody has setbacks in life, but it’s how we respond to the setbacks that matters.”
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