This week, senior leadership from the White House, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Departments of Justice, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and Labor came together to review the progress and set strategic direction of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention.
As Attorney General Holder said on Tuesday, “[F]ar too many neighborhoods continue to be ravaged by youth and gang violence. Too many kids are giving up on themselves and giving in to a life of crime. Too many families are struggling to heal. Too many lives continue to be needlessly, and violently, cut short.” That’s why President Obama ordered the creation of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. The idea is to provide a means by which communities can share common challenges and promising strategies, while federal agencies work to support local efforts to prevent youth violence.
This week's meeting highlighted the success of the April Summit, where federal partners met with leaders from the six participating cities - Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Salinas, and San Jose. In April, each of the participating cities submitted a plan for combating youth violence. At Tuesday's Forum Steering Committee (FSC) meeting, attendees proposed several ideas to prevent youth violence, including the creation of youth advisory boards and taking a multi-disciplinary approach to address housing and unemployment problems among young people. The federal government has also begun to plan more ways in which it can support local communities as they take on this serious and complex issue.
Recognizing that effectively addressing youth violence requires coordination among diverse partners, the FSC also discussed the ongoing efforts of the Forum to engage businesses as well as philanthropic, faith and community-based organizations in the work of the Forum at both the local and federal levels.
But the government can’t do this alone. Solving a problem as widespread and as serious as youth violence will require collaboration among everyone. From the White House, to community organizations, to families and neighbors: we all have a responsibility to pitch in and help. Visits by Federal members of the Forum to each of the participating localities are tentatively planned for this summer and fall.
For more information and to find out how you can get involved in solving this problem, please visit the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention website at www.findyouthinfo.gov/youthviolence.
Thomas Abt is Chief of Staff at the Office of Justice Programs for the Department of Justice.