Thousands Of Ocean County Kids Graduate From Gang Prevention Program

G.R.E.A.T. partners: Lakewood Assistant Principal Dr. Scott Horowitz, Lakewood Ptl. Steve Nickens, OCPO Det. Tom Scalzullo OCPO Det.I Taryn Scwartz and Lakewood Principal Richard Goldstein. (Photo courtesy Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office)

LAKEWOOD – Lakewood will close out the G.R.E.A.T. Program for Ocean County schools this year, after 500 Lakewood Middle School children graduated from the law enforcement based gang and violence prevention training on June 13.

Since 2011, the program has so far provided Gang Resistance Education and Training for over 2,500 fifth and sixth grade students in Ocean County through the help of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, Toms River Police, South Toms River Police and Lakewood Police.

Although not a new program – it’s a national and international gang and violence prevention program that’s been around for almost 30 years – it focuses on teaching children life skills when it comes to decision-making, communication skills, anger management, anti-bullying and respect. Classes are taught by law enforcement officers who are trained and certified by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.

Training took place in the following schools this year: Cedar Grove Elementary, Walnut Street Elementary, East Dover Elementary, Washington Street Elementary, West Dover Elementary, Hooper Avenue Elementary, Citta Elementary, North Dover Elementary, Silver Bay Elementary, South Toms River Elementary, Lakewood Middle School, Toms River Intermediate East and Toms River Intermediate North.

The G.R.E.A.T. Program is taught specifically in the fifth and sixth grades since they are seen as the years before children are faced with introduction to gangs and delinquent behavior.

For more information on the G.R.E.A.T. Program, visit