Civic Engagement

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The images are haunting, fathers and mothers grieving as they bury their sons and daughters because of gang violence. Mourning relatives at funerals and candlelight community vigils fill our television screens and newspaper front pages. Gang violence in America is once again on the rise. Nationwide gang homicides are up an alarming 50 percent since 1999. Serious violent criminals need to be arrested, convicted and locked up. But in order to curb gang violence we must find ways to intervene and offer alternatives to the gang lifestyle in order to save at-risk children before it’s too late. The police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and crime survivors who make up FIGHT CRIME: INVEST IN KIDS are committed to taking the most dangerous criminals off our streets; however, we also know that we can’t simply arrest our way out of the crime problem. This report proves that the “one-two punch”of targeted police enforcement and intensive intervention with children yields dramatic results in cutting gang crime. Research shows there are proven strategies to cut gang-related homicides almost immediately and shut off the pipeline that delivers new children into gangs. Successful model programs, such as ones in Philadelphia and Boston, start by locating youth gang members. The programs combine close supervision and swift consequences for violence with collaborative community services to help children get off drugs, stay in school, or find a job. In Philadelphia, statistics show that when their model program was instituted in two police districts in 1999, youth homicides dropped nearly in half for the following four years.

Another effective strategy steers kids from crime by equipping parents with tools to better manage their children’s behavior and keep them on the right track. Other strategies focus on getting a head start by offering quality pre-kindergarten and home visitation/parent coaching programs. The inner cities are no longer the exclusive domain of gangs and their...
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