Cities Present Comprehensive Youth Violence Prevention Plans

Article excerpt

Six cities selected to participate in a National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention have completed comprehensive plans to reduce youth violence in their communities.

Mayors and other municipal leaders from Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Salinas, Calif., and San Jose, Calif., presented their plans at a Summit on Preventing Youth Violence hosted in Washington, D.C., last week by the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies.

Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Special Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., and Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske all gave remarks expressing support for the forum cities' efforts.

"This work could hardly be more urgent," said Attorney General Holder. "Today, we know that the majority of our young people--more than 60 percent of them--have been exposed to crime, abuse and violence ... And we know that exposure to violence--as a witness or a victim--can have devastating, long-term effects on our children, increasing their chances for depression, substance abuse and violent behavior."

The launch of the forum by President Obama last October was inspired in part by the California Cities Gang Prevention Network, a 13-city initiative of NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

The network has helped participating cities develop comprehensive gang prevention plans, identify effective strategies for reducing gang violence and highlight state and federal policy changes that can support local efforts. Salinas and San Jose participate in the both the network and the forum.

The U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Labor and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy are collaborating to provide technical assistance to the six forum cities.

Plan Highlights

Local plans developed by network and forum members blend a combination of prevention, intervention, suppression and reentry strategies. The plans recognize that cities cannot simply "arrest their way out of the problem" of gang and youth violence. Law enforcement officials work in close partnership with service providers and other community partners on multidisciplinary, balanced, data-driven approaches in each city.

In Boston, local officials seek to build on a strong record of interagency collaboration to improve outcomes for youth. For instance, the city plans to connect violence prevention efforts to the Circle of Promise initiative, a place-based approach to improving student achievement and family economic stability in Boston's most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Other key activities include earlier detection and intervention with youth who may be prone to violent behavior, better information sharing between agencies and engagement with the community, and advocacy for the resources needed to expand mental health services. …