Masters Thesis

A Study to determine the effectiveness of the Step Up Program in Tulare County

Step Up is an anti-gang prevention program that several agencies and communities have implemented, which focuses on education and informing community on how to discourage, deter, and prevent at risk youth in joining gangs. As of 2014, Step Up has implemented approximately 24 implemented program activities in various neighborhoods throughout Tulare County. In 2007, due to the increase in gang related crimes in various neighborhoods in Tulare County the Step Up imitative was created and was recommended by the Tulare County Gang Task Force, a partnership of private sector, education, law enforcement, and community organization, to its citizen to become part of the Step Up initiative in order to help gang awareness and stop the future crimes. However, the Tulare county Gang Task Force did not mention how and why Step Up met the needs of the citizens of Tulare County in assisting them in stopping or reducing gang activity nor was there any information about the effectiveness of the program. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to review the factors that increase teen gang involvement and how the components of Step Up program address these factors in order to evaluate what impact the Step Up program is having on youth to determine whether the Tulare County Gang Task Force should continue to promote and fund the Step Up program as one of its gang prevention strategies. The goal of this project is to understand the Step Up program effectiveness on youth and the community as a whole. This is important because the program to date fails to have an evaluation measuring the effects of the program. Youth growing up in Tulare County experience challenges due to the massive gang culture in the area. The Step Up program was established to deteriorate the negative effects gang culture had. The issue of gangs has had big impact in Tulare County so it is necessary to evaluate a program that was implemented to address gang awareness and to create more opportunity for at risk youth to make a positive contribution to their communities.

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