WASHINGTON—Teams of youth violence experts from Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Memphis, Tenn.; Salinas, Calif.; and San Jose, Calif., have concluded a two-day meeting of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. The group, comprised of law enforcement officers, policy and public-health experts, educators, researchers, city officials, social services providers, community and faith leaders, and concerned parents, met this week to share experiences and to continue working to address and to prevent youth and gang violence.
“The work we are doing is sending an unmistakable message: that, in this country, we will not give up on our children when it comes to combating youth violence,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “The priorities that we set now are what will allow America’s next generation of leaders to rise above the current threats and obstacles, break destructive cycles and seize tomorrow’s opportunities.”
The six participating cities developed comprehensive plans to prevent youth and gang violence in their city, using multi-disciplinary partnerships, balanced approaches and data-driven strategies. They first presented these plans at the Summit on Preventing Youth Violence on April 4-5, 2011, in Washington, D.C. These plans focus on strategies to reduce violence, improve opportunities for youth, and encourage innovation at the local and federal levels. The strategy is already at work in each city, enabling these teams to establish diverse partnerships, leverage limited resources, and raise awareness of the problem and solutions as well as support for young people.
At this working session, the cities discussed strategies, including youth and family engagement, faith and community-based outreach, and intervention and enforcement models such as the Boston Gun Project’s Operation Ceasefire and the CeaseFire-Chicago programs, to support the implementation of their plans. Other topics included how to implement and fund comprehensive strategies in tough economic times, as well as how to improve data-sharing and address reentry concerns.
At the direction of President Obama, the Departments of Justice and Education, along with other participating federal agencies and localities, officially launched the Forum on Oct. 5, 2010. The administration created the forum as a context for participating localities to share challenges and promising strategies with each other and to explore how federal agencies can better support local efforts.
Participating cities were selected on the basis of need, geographic diversity, and willingness and capacity to engage. Along with the Departments of Justice and Education, participating federal agencies include the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Labor, as well as the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
More information on the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention can be found at: http://findyouthinfo.gov/topic_preventingViolence.shtml .