On Wednesday, July 22 Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-CA) cosponsored a briefing by National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives on Preventing Violence: Evidence-Based Programs and Policies to Promote Positive Youth Development. CWLA is a member of the coalition. The focus of the briefing was to promote strategies that can help communities address youth violence. Congressman Scott used his time to promote Youth PROMISE Act (YPA) a bill that would provide grants through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to local governments and Indian tribes. The grants would be to plan and assess evidence-based and promising practices that address juvenile delinquency issues. The funds could also implement those plans to coordinate and support the juvenile delinquency and gang prevention and other intervention programs in local communities and Indian tribes.
Congressman Cardenas also spoke of the same challenges that he sees in many neighborhoods in his native California and both members emphasized that solutions are possible but must focus on specific communities and community-based strategies.
The panel including presentations from Dr Kristin Moore, Child Trends, Dr. Peter Sharf, Louisiana State University School of Public Health, Dr. Michael Greene, Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, and Dr. Thomas Simon, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC. Moore focused on the Child Trends Brief: Preventing Violence: Understanding and Addressing Determinants of Youth Violence in the United States. While her comments and the document point out that we have had some success in reducing the rates of violence effecting children and youth, the United States remains at higher rates compared to other nations. Moore, similar to later panelists emphasized the need for community-based and community-targeted strategies. Those strategies include both the need to address both the risks that exist within a community and the need to strengthen the protective factors including those found in the individual, family, schools and the community.
Scharf highlighted the fact that not all cities, communities and neighborhoods are the same or experiencing violence and that what is needed is a focused strategy that address these exceptions. He indicated that even with nearby neighborhoods there can be vast differences in terms of youth violence and homicide. He also highlighted the dramatic decrease in federal funding from a variety of federal programs through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and HHS based programs with funding decreasing from more than $1 billion in $2001 to $86 million today.