Youth Alliance Against Gang Violence (YAAGV)
Gender: Mixed (male and female)
Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1
Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention
The Youth Alliance Against Gang Violence (YAAGV), also known as the Warrior Spirit Walking program, is a community-based crime prevention program that focuses on the multiple determinants of criminal and antisocial behaviour, providing services in the youth’s own neighbourhood instead of in the family unit.
The program was based on the Circle of Courage® approachFootnote1 and was centered on community mobilization; conflict resolution; counselling and social work; leadership and youth development; peer counselling and mediation; school-based strategies; skills training; and social emotional learning.
The main goals of the YAAGV program are to:
- Increase youth attachment to school;
- Reduce youth involvement in gang-related violence and crime; and
- Increase literacy skills and high school completion rates.
The appropriate clientele for the YAAGV program is Aboriginal youth between the ages of 12 and 21 who are gang-involved or at risk of gang involvement.
Participants are referred to the YAAGV program by school principals. To participate in the program, youth must be Aboriginal and display at-risk behaviours associated with gang involvement.
The YAAGV program consists of:
- Counselling: Services include individual crisis, employment, substance abuse management, female assistance group, and community school-based counselling services;
- Presentation team: Under staff supervision and support, selected program participants disengaging from gangs make presentations to other young people about the dangers of youth violence, bullying, and gang involvement;
- Senior and junior Won Ska cultural schools: This is an alternative school program to help high-risk Aboriginal youth complete their high school training, earn elementary and high school credits, increase literacy skills, increase life skills, and participate in employment training;
- Youth activity centre: This centre provides a safe environment for recreational, musical, and cultural activities;
- Van outreach: Four times a week, staff use a van to make contact with high-risk youth on the streets. A nurse joins the staff twice a week to provide needle exchange services. Other services included providing healthy meals and drinks, condom and bad-date list distribution, counselling, information, and referrals for more intensive services; and
- Court outreach: Court house visits are provided by a justice worker who also offers legal, counselling, information, and referral services.
Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:
- Organizational requirements: The lead organization must use their resources to mobilize community members and schools in order to recruit at-risk youth who may benefit from participating in the YAAGV program.
- Partnerships: The success of the YAAGV program depends on its partnerships with local health, counselling, shelter, recreational, artistic, and employment programs to better address the complex needs of youth. Partnerships with schools are also important since school principals regularly provide program staff with referrals of students who are experiencing difficulties and who would benefit from intervention. Given the serious nature of the criminal activity engaged in by many gang-involved youth, it is also crucial that lead organizations develop partnerships with local police.
- Training and technical assistance: Staff must be trained in the Circle of Courage® approach and how to maintain appropriate boundaries with youth. This is particularly important for staff who rely on their life experiences as past gang members, sex trade workers or addicts, as the backbone of their interventions. Program administrators are also required to have specialized training and experience in delivering family counselling.
- Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
- Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.
The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:
- Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
- Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
- SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
- Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.
Gathering Canadian Knowledge
Canadian Implementation Sites
Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to implement the YAAGV program in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan between 2007 and 2011. The YAAGV was implemented by the Prince Albert Outreach Program, Inc. (PAOPI).
Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies
As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation studyFootnote2 of the YAAGV program was conducted in 2007-2011 by Totten and Dunn using a quasi-experimental design. More specifically, a non-randomized control group design was used, consisting of 147 YAAGV clients in the treatment group and 48 gang-involved youth in the control group. Quantitative data were collected using a variety of instruments and qualitative methods were also used. A pre-, mid-, post- and follow-up design for both the treatment and control groups were also conducted.
Results from this evaluation showed the following:
- With regard to measuring reductions in pro-violent attitudes and beliefs, four indices were used. These were: approval of aggression, retaliation to aggression, approval of aggression and retaliation combined, and conflict resolution skills. Data for these indicators were only available at the entry and at 6 months. During this period, no significant changes were observed in general approval of aggression and retaliation. A significant improvement in conflict resolution skills (a 65% increase) was found between entry and six months; and
- In terms of the acceptance of gangs, findings showed that acceptance of gangs declined with time spent in the program. Acceptance of gangs had declined by 38% and 42% between entry and 24 and 30 months respectively.
For more information, refer to the National Crime Prevention Centre’s (2012) publication.
Between 2007 and 2011, the cost per youth involved in the YAAGV program was approximately $35,448 (CAD) or $2,954 (CAD) per month per participant (National Crime Prevention Centre, 2012).
National Crime Prevention Centre. (2012). Youth Alliance Against Gang Violence. Evaluation Summary. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada. Available from: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/yth-llnc/index-eng.aspx
Totten, M., & Dunn, S. (2012). Final Evaluation Report for the Prince Albert Outreach Program Inc. Youth Alliance Against Gang Violence Project. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety Canada. Available from: http://www.tottenandassociates.ca/
For more information on this program, contact:
Prince Albert Outreach Program Inc.
1211 – 1st Avenue West
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan S6V 4Y8
Record Updated On - 2020-03-12
- Date modified: