Faith and community-based organizations provide critical leadership, knowledge, and passion when it comes to preventing and intervening in cycles of youth violence around the country.
All throughout the country faith and non-profit organizations can take on many tasks in order to keep young people safe and increase positive opportunities for young people.
Staff and volunteers from churches, mosques, synagogues and community centers mentor children, counsel parents, teach classes, serve meals, conduct neighborhood clean-ups, conduct home visits and work with law enforcement to patrol the streets.
They provide vital services in communities and their extensive networks help can help link youth and families to resources that can help them.
Collaborative partnerships between local government, law enforcement and community and faith-based organizations are key to successful youth violence prevention efforts.
At the direction of President Obama, the Departments of Justice and Education launched the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention in October 2010 in order to start a national conversation concerning youth and gang violence.
Since then, Federal agencies have partnered with six cities throughout the country (Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Salinas, and San Jose).
The goals are to: 1) Elevate youth and gang violence as an issue of national significance; 2) Enhance the capacity of participating localities, as well as others across the country, to more effectively prevent youth and gang violence, and 3) Sustain progress and systems change through engagement, alignment, and assessment.
We understand that, as we move forward together, no single group or approach can work in isolation. We need a comprehensive approach for we know that there are no silver bullets and quick-fixes to this complex issue.
The President, his Cabinet, and all of us working locally are concerned with the rates of firearm homicide by youth ages 24 and younger. The rate among this age group exceeds all-age rates in 80% of the United States' largest metropolitan areas and 88% of U.S. cities [CDC, 2011].
We cannot continue to allow this to happen. Through the Forum, we are helping jurisdictions develop balanced approaches to reducing our nation's homicide rate among our youth. We are placing a high value on the lives of our young people.
A balanced approach includes connecting members of the faith community, non-profit practitioners, and residents -- including youth -- with law enforcement, schools, and other key stakeholders such as the mayor's office, the D.A.'s office, and U.S. Attorneys to all come together to develop local solutions to local problems.
To find out more information about the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention and to see the six cities comprehensive plans, visit: http://www.findyouthinfo.gov/topic_preventingViolence.shtml