Youth Crime and Urban Policy: A View from the Inner City

Youth Crime and Urban Policy: A View from the Inner City

Youth Crime and Urban Policy: A View from the Inner City

Youth Crime and Urban Policy: A View from the Inner City

Excerpt

This forum, which met in May 1980 in Washington, D.C., was a convocation of nine neighborhood-based organizations that have been working effectively with troubled or delinquent youths of America's largest cities. Representatives of these urban organizations met to share their experiences and to describe their programs to counter youth crime in their own neighborhoods. The forum was unique in that it was made up entirely of nonprofessional, self-taught experts on youth problems, and included former gang members and other young people from high- crime, high-risk urban centers who had been helped by the local programs.

The American Enterprise Institute, sponsor of the youth forum through its Mediating Structures Project, has been studying these urban neighborhood groups, seeking to determine how nongovernmental projects of this kind can be successful in dealing with social problems, including the pressing problem of juvenile crime and delinquency.

In two days of round-table discussion, forum members identified three major areas of concern that they encounter in their work. They found that one set of common problems concerns their relationships with the criminal justice system and with various government agencies empowered to exercise authority over aspects of what they are doing. A related problem is the constant search for financial support from funding agencies. Forum members also explored the problems and issues in interacting with the young people who need their help. Panel members described to one another their philosophies and ideas, as well as the hard-earned experience of their programs. They sought to identify the special needs of young people who grow up on inner-city streets and to analyze their own strengths in meeting these needs. In mutual consultation, panel members endeavored to make explicit the steps they have taken to build their remarkable record of success with former gang members and other juveniles.

After two days of talks, the forum as a group strongly reaffirmed the contention that authentic solutions to social problems cannot come . . .

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