Reduce Tomorrow's Violence: Take Action Today
In a healthy society, citizens should neither have to fear for the safety of youth nor fear being victimized by them. Today, however, many children are exposed to the threat of violence in their homes, schools, and neighborhoods. At an alarming rate, the entrepreneurial talents and skills of some of our brightest youngsters are employed in the lucrative but lethal trade of distributing illegal substances. They war with each other, deface buildings, terrorize neighborhoods, and engage in other malicious acts. Youthful prostitutes and runaways live in the streets, merchants are robbed at gunpoint, and the elderly are attacked. Easy access to guns has added to the lethality of juvenile violence.
Researcher and child advocate James Garbarino likens American communities plagued by gang violence to urban war zones where more than one in four children have witnessed a homicide. Garbarino concludes: "Environmental danger of this magnitude is equaled only in the lives of children who live in situations of armed conflict."1
It is disheartening to see the growing numbers of violent youth who value neither their own lives nor those of their victims. In this Action Plan, the Coordinating Council has presented its broad vision for reforming the juvenile justice system and strengthening communities to reduce both the number of juvenile victims and the number of juvenile offenders. The vision is responsive in terms of advocating intensified law enforcement and prosecution of serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders and responsible in terms of advancing strategies to bolster the system of support and intervention for those children and youth confronted by violence in their communities, their schools, and their homes.
Although this Action Plan cannot include all sources of guidance on the suggested strategies or current research, the Appendixes contain extensive references regarding model programs, program evaluations, delinquency research, and juvenile justice statistics.
Self-assessment or external evaluation is critical to success in this field. The Coordinating Council urges all communities to find a clear way to measure and demonstrate the outcome of the actions they take to address their juvenile violence and delinquency problem.
The Nation can ill afford to make the wrong choices. The Action Plan presents examples of community commitment to solutions that work. We have an opportunity to build on these accomplishments and implement them in our own communities.
1. Garbarino, J., K. Kostlny, and N. Dubrow. 1991. No Place To Be a Child: Growing Up in a War Zone. Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books.
Contents | Foreword | Acknowledgments | Introduction | Summary
Figures | Objectives | Conclusion | Appendixes