Monday, May 7, 2012

COMBATING YOUTH VIOLENCE

A few weeks ago, on March 21, Child Welfare Watch of the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School hosted an event, Combating Youth Violence: Concrete Solutions for New York City, featuring an address by David Kennedy, director of the John Jay Center for Crime Prevention and Control. The address was followed by a conversation with Reean Charles, a member of Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YOSOS), New York City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Kevin O’Connor, Assistant Commissioner of the NYPD Division of Community Affairs, and Iesha Sekou, Executive Director of Street Corner Resources. The conversation was moderated by Errol Louis, host of NY1’s Inside City Hall.

David Kennedy’s address focused on misunderstandings that exist on both sides, on the side of young people as they are perceived by institutions, like the court system and the NYPD, that seek to keep them out of trouble and on the side of those institutions as they are perceived by young people who doubt their fairness. During the conversation that followed, Councilmember Mark-Viverito highlighted a major theme in overcoming this antagonism: “We need to involve the voices of those that are being impacted… and that’s not happening.” Reean Charles, a young person from Crown Heights and a member of the Center for Court Innovation’s YOSOS program, responded by reminding the audience how education campaigns around smoking over the last few decades have helped many young people realize the harms of this habit. She stressed the need for similar programming to educate youths about the dangers of violence and the reasons to resist the behaviors that perpetuate it.

The complete video can be found here and is worth watching, especially the conversation at the end, which starts around 37:00.

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