Constable Jim Gibbs appeared before the Cannon County School Board workshop meeting Tuesday evening to propose an agreement between the school district and the constable’s office to bring violence resistance education and training to Cannon County elementary schools.
The program, Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) is sponsored by the Department of Justice and calls upon experienced law enforcement officers with classroom teaching experience to teach children how to respond to threatening situations, and how to resist risky behaviors and relationships such as gang involvement.
Gibbs explained that G.R.E.A.T. is an educational process starting at a young age that not only teaches positive behavior in children, but creates a trust in the law enforcement officer in uniform.
While establishing a need for the program, Gibbs cited specific violence related questions from the Tennessee High School 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The Tennessee Department of Education conducts the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) during each odd numbered year. The 2009 YRBS data is weighted and the results can be generalized to all students in Tennessee public schools in grades 9-12. The results indicated that 41.5 percent of the male students and 22.8 percent of the female students acknowledged that they were in a physical fight one or more times during the previous 12 months. The same survey reported that 32.6 percent of male students acknowledged carried a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on one or more of the past 30 days.
We are all painfully aware of the recent Phoebe Prince bullying case. Phoebe committed suicide because she was unable to deal with peer pressure and bullying that was taking place at school. Not long ago in Cannon County a disagreement between two students lead to a confrontation between their fathers which resulted in the death of one and the arrest of the other. Hopefully a program such as G.R.E.A.T. would have prevent both incidents from happening.
Gibbs promised to volunteer his time to teach the pilot program targeting Woodbury Grammar School and hoped that other local law enforcement officers would see the value of the cause and join in as volunteer instructors. Not everyone can teach the program, there are a unique qualifications including being in law enforcement and the minimum of 40 hours of training required. Gibbs feels that if officers who are parents will volunteer their time to coach little league sports, they should be willing to coach kids in behavior skills.
SEE RELATED INFORMATION:
Tennessee High School Survey
School Violence 2009 Report