Operation Ceasefire’s (Fayetteville Police Department) Educating Kids about Gun Violence (EKG) Program

The Educating Kids about Gun Violence (EKG) program is part of the Fayetteville Police Department’s Operation Ceasefire initiative, The EKG program began in 2014 and is designed to teach kids about gun and gang violence and prepare them for healthy decision-making. The program is taught by Fayetteville Police Department officers to youth in all 7th and 9th graders in the Cumberland County School System, representing a unique partnership between law enforcement and the schools. By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, the Department will have reached over 8600 students county-wide with its gun and gang violence prevention and education message.

The EKG program uses a video of a scenario of a young male who is faced with various decision points about gun and gang violence. The video exposes the classroom participants to the potential consequences of poor decision making about guns and gangs. Classroom participants then discuss decision-making and how the young male in the video could have made better decisions along the way to prevent the negative consequences he experienced in the video.

Based on preliminary data analyzed by the NC Network for Safe Communities team stemming from surveys completed by student participants, the EKG program has been administered to a sample of students where nearly half have already experienced a close family or friend who has been shot with a gun. Overall, 2.2% of student participants are already in a gang and another 3.5% would consider joining a gang. About 12% had either been shot at or threatened with a gun themselves and another 3.3% reported that they have used a gun to threaten or shoot at another person. Over 20% of student participants reported that it would be easy to get a gun if they wanted one and nearly 8% said that their friends carried guns regularly. Nearly 10% of the student participants reported that they have already felt pressure from others to carry guns themselves. The descriptors of the sample suggest that the EKG program is targeting a rather vulnerable or at-risk population of students, many of whom are already experiencing some level of gun and gang-related violence in their lives. Even still, the changes in attitudes and intended behaviors toward guns and gangs as a result of the EKG program are very promising. Students showed statistically significant (p ≤ .05) attitudinal/cognitive and intended behavioral shifts in the desired direction from pre- to post-survey, indicating that exposure to the EKG training program was successful in leading to student attitudinal, behavioral, and cognitive changes. Specifically, students reported the following shifts after exposure to the EKG training based on their pre- and post-survey data.

  • They agreed more that the best way to solve arguments was to talk things out.
  • They felt more strongly that they knew what to do resist peer pressure.
  • They were less likely to agree that they had to be willing to break rules to fit in with their peers.
  • They were more likely to stop hanging out with a friend known to carry a gun.
  • They were more likely to feel that they knew how make smart decisions.
  • They were more likely to agree that carrying a gun is dangerous.
  • They were likely to debunk the myth that gang members stand up for each other. Specifically, after the video, students were unlikely to feel that the young male’s gang would have his back after going to prison even though before the video, students were more likely to feel that gangs in general have each other’s backs.

In addition, on the post-survey, 58.2% of students strongly agreed and another 35.1% agreed that they have choices
when it comes to making good decisions. 51.7% of students strongly agreed and 38.6% agreed that after the program,
they feel like they will be able to make better decisions in their life. 53.7% of students strongly agreed and 29.0% agreed
that after the program, they would be less likely to carry a gun. 59.8% of students strongly agreed and 30.3% agreed that
after the program, the feel like they know more about the dangers of having a gun. Finally, 62.7% of students strongly
agreed and 29.0% agreed that after the program, they leaned that they need to think more about the consequences of
their actions before acting.

Even more compelling are the anecdotal stories coming from the officers who facilitate the EKG sessions about student reactions and revelations about their own experiences related to gang and gun violence. Officers always leave their direct contact information with the students at the end of each session and many students have reached out to officers forging true relationships and building trust around this sensitive matter of violence in their everyday lives.

We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Fayetteville Police Department on the EKG program. Final evaluation results will be forthcoming thanks to funding from the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission for the NC Network for Safe Communities team to complete the evaluation work.

For more information about the EKG program, contact Lisa Jayne, Operation Ceasefire Coordinator for the Fayetteville Police Department at LJayne@ci.fay.nc.us, Be sure to tell her we sent ya!