3. Reducing Youth Involvement with Guns, Drugs, and Gangs

The recent involvement of youth with guns, drugs, and gangs has fueled concern for the health and well-being of our young people. Recent research has confirmed a number of troubling relationships including those between delinquency and alcohol and illegal drug use, delinquency and gang membership, and an increased involvement with firearms for youth involved with drugs and gangs (Juvenile Justice Action Plan, 1996). Additionally, last year's highly publicized school shootings have increased concerns about the safety of our youth while at school. In 1998, a number of efforts were undertaken to reduce school-related violence and alcohol and other drug use among youth.

One of the biggest events of the year was the White House Conference on School Safety. Sponsored by the Council and hosted by the President, Vice President, and First Lady, the conference brought together researchers, practitioners, educators, and concerned citizens to address the issues of violence in our schools. The conference also provided a forum for the President to announce a series of new Federal initiatives aimed at combating the incidence and consequences of school violence including $12 million to assist local schools and communities in the wake of school-related violent deaths and $65 million to enable schools with serious crime problems to hire community police and school resource officers. OJJDP also has convened a Working Group on School Violence with member representatives from each OJJDP division, along with representatives from the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, to monitor developments in the area of school violence, share information, and work on future plans to combat school violence.

In 1998, the Council also championed a number of other programs intended to address school violence and reduce youth involvement in guns, drugs, and gangs:

  • Inter-agency Safe Schools-Healthy Students -- a new initiative designed to help schools and communities develop and implement comprehensive responses to school safety.

  • Drug Free Communities Support Program -- a collaborative grant effort between OJJDP and the Office of National Drug Control Policy designed to strengthen community-based coalition efforts to reduce youth substance abuse.

  • Combating Underage Drinking Program -- an initiative to help States develop comprehensive strategies that encourage cooperation and coordination among States, communities, and private organizations to address underage drinking.

  • Replication of Life Skills Training Program -- a three-year intervention, implemented in school classrooms by school teachers, designed to prevent or reduce gateway drug use (i.e., tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana).

Additionally, OJJDP and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) continued development of the Federal Assisted Community Efforts or FACE Database. This Internet-accessible database is being designed to reduce duplication of efforts by providing a single point of entry for local, State, and Federal decision makers to gather detailed information on all Federal programs and activities.

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1998 Report to Congress: Title V Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention Programs OJJDP Report