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|City Takes on Youth Violence Prevention|
By Jonathan Friedman
September 17, 2010 -- The City Council on Tuesday endorsed an action plan by City staff to tackle the issue of youth violence in Santa Monica. The creation of the action plan comes as a response to a white paper submitted to the council in January by school board member and Pico Youth & Family Center head Oscar de la Torre. He had submitted the paper in January, two months after the murder of 20-year-old Santa Monica resident Richard Juarez Jr. at Virginia Avenue Park.
The action plan calls for maintaining and improving existing programs for youth beginning at the preschool level that give them opportunities away from violence. The need for parent and community involvement is stressed. The plan also calls for review of data regarding youth violence so it can be used to identify needs and to secure additional funding for programs.
To view the action plan, go to: YOUTH VIOLENCE PREVENTION IN SANTA MONICA: AN ACTION PLAN FOR 2010 AND 2011 (September 2010)
Also, $25,000 that was set aside in the City budget in June at the request of Mayor Bobby Shriver for youth violence prevention will go to Santa Monica’s Youth Resource Team (YRT). This was formed in 2006 to address youth violence and gang prevention. This money will be used to pay for a facilitator and part-time as-needed staff for administrative support. The action plan calls for strengthening the YRT.
“(The YRT will) become the mechanism to monitor and evaluate this plan, including addressing youth priorities, assessing current programs, establishing timelines and benchmarks for measuring success and review strategies moving forward.”
The action plan also calls for Santa Monica to be part of a regional approach to end youth violence.
“We will work with our neighboring communities and partners to form collaborations that address the regional nature of youth violence and promote the social, educational and healthy development of youth in Santa Monica,” the action plan states.
De la Torre told the council he supports the action plan.
“A new era of collaboration is needed for prevention, intervention and enforcement to work,” he said. “We need to work in solidarity at nonprofit agencies, schools and law enforcement to create the fertile ground for positive transformation to take place in our city.”
De la Torre said finding jobs for young people is a good way to prevent violence. He said the various development agreements being formed for projects on the City’s east end will be an opportunity for local jobs. De la Torre also stressed working with other Cities is needed to solve what he called a regional problem.
The council heard from Richard Juarez Sr., the father of the murder victim from November. He issued a statement prior to the meeting in support of the action plan.“I don’t want Richie’s death to go in vain,” he said. “My hope is that the action taken by the Santa Monica City Council will inspire community leaders to step up their commitment to preventing youth from joining gangs and participating in violence. If our collective work saves one life, then that’s one more family that does not have to suffer the pain of losing a loved one to violence.”
"We will work with our neighboring communities and partners
to form collaborations that address the regional nature of youth violence
and promote the social, educational and healthy development of youth in
new era of collaboration is needed for prevention, intervention and enforcement
to work. We need to work in solidarity at nonprofit agencies, schools
and law enforcement to create the fertile ground for positive transformation
to take place in our city.”
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