Thursday, July 23, 2009

Minneapolis' Blueprint To prevent Youth Violence Going Statewide

I learned about this program by watching KSTP's 11 am news yesterday, but the Minneapolis program which will be expanding to other cities in Minnesota is new enough that I couldn't find information on this expansion on the KSTP website or through Google.

From the Minneapolis Blueprint for Action webpage:

The City of Minneapolis recognizes that youth violence is a public health epidemic that requires a holistic, multi-faceted response. Drawing on a mix of increased law enforcement and public health strategies to address the root causes of violence and significantly reduce and prevent youth violence in Minneapolis, the city, in partnership with a host of community stakeholders, created the Blueprint for Action.

Goals identified in the Blueprint:

Connect every youth with a trusted adult,
Intervene at the first sign that youth are at risk for violence,
Restore youth who have gone down the wrong path, and
Unlearn the culture of violence in our community.
This type of approach is something that many people have wanted for many years and it is something that certain groups have tried to do, but to reach these goals there needs to be strong governmental support so that public and private efforts can be coordinated and not undermined.

This effort and others have contributed to a reduction of violent crime in Minneapolis including a reduction in the murder rate.

The most eye opening statistic: Only six homicides so far in 2009. It's the lowest murder rate in the first half of the year since the Minneapolis Lakers played at the Armory back in the 1940's.

Police and residents are just hoping it stays that way. The sound blaring sirens in north Minneapolis are replaced kids playing, and families gather where gangs used to.
Clearly hope is important, but hope alone isn't enough. Too often when prevention efforts are effective many people assume those prevention efforts are no longer needed and will support cutting funding for these efforts.

From a Star Tribune article published last October:

Juvenile crime statistics show the plan is working. Two years ago, people 10 to 24 years old were responsible for nearly half the violent crime in Minneapolis. This year, it's decreased to 25 percent. But the nine youth murdered in 2008 is one more than the previous year.

The city's strategy to attack juvenile crime as a public health issue is getting national attention. The U.S. Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities will incorporate the plan into its national crime agendas.
This switch in thinking so that crime and violence prevention are viewed as public health issues is an important switch. This is different from the view which simply dismisses those who commit youth crimes in the hopes that youthful offenders will grow out of committing violence.

The only question I have about the program is whether the outreach addresses the culture of dating and sexual violence. I believe that comprehensive crime prevention programs need to be truly comprehensive even if talking to children about relationships and sex make many people uncomfortable.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:22 AM   0 comments links to this post


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