Friday, October 30, 2009

Battling Youth Violence with Opportunity and Hope for Urban Families

A few posts ago, I said I would continue to address the issue of youth violence. I didn't forget. I just decided I would do it in my monthly column. Here's an excerpt...

"Derrion is the Chicago youth killed last month while walking home from school, beaten to death, caught in a fight between two rival gangs. Other young people witnessing the event captured the tragedy on cell phone video, which was broadcast on news outlets throughout the country and then went viral online."

"Both Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder were dispatched to Chicago, where they condemned the horrendous incident and announced federal funding and the need for new strategies to stem youth violence, referring to it as a "public health issue.""

"That may be true. But youth violence cannot be addressed that narrowly. Efforts to reduce it must be viewed in a larger context of urban, concentrated poverty. Until that is the norm, such a tragedy as 16-year-old's Derrion's death is possible in Dallas or any city where poverty is addressed ineffectively..."

"The more effective tools address the larger issue of concentrated poverty in Chicago, Dallas and every other major city in our country: increased education and job training, increased prevention services, increased counseling and access to substance abuse treatment."

"The Children's Defense Fund recommends additional policy solutions, such as a minimum wage indexed to inflation, increased affordable housing and adequate funding for and access to food stamps. These solutions are critical complements to effective anti-gang programs."

"Youth must be held accountable for the crimes they commit. But all adults are accountable for creating an environment in society that provides them with more opportunity and hope."

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