Gang prevention, intervention and suppression for youth at risk and gang members are strategies for addressing the recent increases in youth and gang related problems in the city of Norfolk, Virginia. State and local policymakers as well as citizens are concerned about public safety and want to avoid a continued increase in gang activity and membership. An effective response to the problems of youth must be built on a thorough understanding of the problem.
There is an important role for Norfolk State University (NSU) to assist the City of Norfolk in addressing the problem and designing an effective program built on the strategies of prevention, intervention and suppression. This white paper outlines such a program and related strategies, which we believe will be a successful response to youth at risk and gang members. This program is focused in the six communities adjacent and next to the Norfolk State Campus, and is designed to support and enhance community organizations and families in their effort to address youth at risk and reduce violence.
The program includes the strategies of prevention, intervention and suppression, and is highlighted by a five point component structure. These five points are as follows: 1)} build a solid community social network of community organizations, churches, government agencies, police units, local businesses, schools, and so forth,. 2) a range of services/workshops/training and educational opportunities offered and available to the residents of the communities identified by key street workers, clergy, parents, police, and other youth. 3) the utilization of key family and ex gang members in working directly with youth and gang members with experience in addressing such problems. 4) the creation of an educational ladder designed to provide alternative patterns of behavior and provide opportunities for the youth and the parents. 5) an evaluation plan focused on determining which aspects of the program are most effective and cost beneficial.
ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM
This program expands on the discussions held on campus. It builds on the range of services and workshops provided by NSU and other groups working in this area and directly with NSU. This program is intended to include what is currently available and expands the capability of folks within NSU so as to support and strengthen families and youth in their development. It is very much intended to assist in diverting youth into alternative patterns of behavior and to reduce the need and/or preference for violence.
The proposed project has five components. The first is to build a network of social, economic and religious organizations in the six communities adjacent to Norfolk State University. Such a network is critical so that information, brochures and direct contact can be made with community residents and organizational leaders. We will most likely need to meet with them most likely in their habitat so as to explain the intent of the program and what we would have them to contribute to the overall effort. Most important would be for them to help distribute the information we prepare, be able to answer basic questions or connect residents with key personnel in the project. We would very much like for some to consider holding workshops and/or educational programs in their facilities.
The type of locales that we are considering would be the public and private schools, the cChurches, recreation and community centers, hair salons and barbershops, and any other places where people gather. The work on our part would be to meet face to face with the managers/ workers/ owners and discuss our effort. We would show them our brochures and other information and leave them with the names of two or three people to call in case they need to contact us, as well as maintaining consistent contact over a period of time so that they will understand the need to address the...