We all know that our young people cannot learn and grow unless they feel safe and are protected from violence in their homes, schools, and neighborhoods.
Cities can combat youth violence effectively by treating it as a public health problem and ensuring a focus on four key steps: connecting every young person with a trusted and caring adult; intervening at the first sign that youth are at risk of violence; restoring young people who have gone down the wrong path; and involving youth and community leaders in public education campaigns to unlearn the culture of violence. Comprehensive approaches within cities that combine prevention, intervention, and enforcement strategies can dramatically reduce youth violence and offer positive alternatives to crime or gang affiliation. For example, municipal leaders can work with school and community partners to establish truancy and curfew centers that engage parents and link young people to services they need to stay in or return to school. Intensive, community-based services can help youth already caught up in the juvenile justice system. Mayors and law enforcement officials can work together to restrict access to illegal guns and other weapons, and city leaders can also involve young people as partners in helping to reduce youth violence and improve their communities.
Examples of local targets to consider:
- Number of children and youth with lasting connections to adult mentors;
- Number of successful truancy interventions;
- School expulsion rates;
- Youth homicide rates;
- Juvenile and neighborhood crime rates; and
- Number of juvenile offenders participating in rehabilitation or reentry programs.