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Building Resilience Through Employment

Operation: Safe Communities

•  Funding Announcements
•  Training Opportunities

News and Views
•  Reports, Guidelines, and Briefs
•  News
by Jack Calhoun

On Oct. 13, 2015, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and Development Services Group, Inc. conducted a Webinar on preventing youth violence and building resilience through employment.

Cities participating in OJJDP's three Youth Violence Prevention Programs—the National Forum, Community-Based Violence Prevention (CBVP), and Defending Childhood—wrestle with the widespread challenge of connecting youth to the community, school, and jobs. During the October Webinar, three national experts addressed job training retention from three different angles, thus giving the audience a full picture of the struggles and promises of employment strategies for those with few skills, uncertain work habits, and little or no support.

Dorothy Stoneman, founder and president of YouthBuild USA, spoke passionately about the organization, which was authorized as a federal program in 1992 and has been managed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) since 2006. Andy Moore, director of Youth and Young Adult Connections at the National League of Cities' Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, covered national trends and promising approaches on the local level. Jennifer Kemp, unit chief for DOL's Youth Policy and Performance, outlined federal policies supporting local efforts to bring disconnected youth into the labor market.



National Youth Justice Awareness Month
October was National Youth Justice Awareness Month, dedicated to preventing youth from entering the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The observance encourages communities to help youth fulfill their true potential, and it supports OJJDP's Smart on Juvenile Justice initiative. Nearly 55,000 youths under 21 are being held in juvenile justice facilities—a disproportionate number of whom are young people of color. Each year, more than 1 million youths under 18 are arrested, mostly for nonviolent crimes.

OJJDP Fall Convening/Communities of Practice
Don't forget to register for the upcoming OJJDP Fall Convening/Communities of Practice, Nov. 17–19. This gathering will also include a full-day session with the Equal Justice Initiative on Nov. 17.

Funding Announcements

CDC Advances Research on Preventing Youth Violence
In September 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced three new National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention awardees. These centers work with local health departments and community partners to develop, implement, and evaluate youth violence prevention strategies in high-risk neighborhoods. The 5-year research investment equals approximately $18 million.


Training Opportunities

Webinar on Reducing Hot Spots
A key element of crime reduction is to remove the opportunity for crimes to occur. The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training and the Bureau of Justice Assistance are broadcasting a Webinar, Building Analytical Capacity Initiative: Strategic Crime Analysis—Reducing Hot Spots and Solving Problems, Dec. 1, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. To register, click here.


by Matthew Malamud

Memphis Lights

In its coverage of the FBI's most recent data on crime in the United States, Memphis-area WMC–TV news reported that "Memphis is now the second most violent city in our nation" behind Detroit, while WREG called the 2014 crescendo in murders a "trend."

The FBI's report warned against ranking cities based on its data for good reason: A closer look at violent crime in Memphis reveals a different, less somber tune.

For one thing, the increase in homicides from 2013 to 2014 does not a trend make. The homicide rate this year is back down (as of September 30, there has been a decline of 10.6 percent compared with last year) and, except for 2014, violent crime in Memphis has been on a downward trend since 2006. That year, the city and surrounding Shelby County launched an initiative, Operation: Safe Communities, which can take partial credit for the reduction in violence.

Of particular interest in violence prevention is how cities are aligning their resources, not only to effectively address violence, but also to address the root causes of violence. For the past several years, the city of Memphis, Tenn., has adopted two Department of Justice initiatives: the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention and Defending Childhood. Both leverage community assets and willpower to achieve what they hope will be lasting change.




Why Detained Youth Don't Get Mental Health Treatment
A bulletin in OJJDP's Beyond Detention Series looks at detained youths' perceptions of barriers to mental health services. The authors identified common beliefs among youth who did not receive services. Many felt their problems would go away without help, nearly one third didn't know how or where to seek help, and nearly one fifth experienced difficulty trying to obtain help. African American, Hispanic, and male detainees received significantly fewer services compared with non-Hispanic white and female youth.


Gangs Use Social Media Too
Gangs are using Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to threaten each other in a practice called "cyber banging." Some written jabs between rivals have led to physical fights and even death. Chicago, Ill., police monitor social media sites, and they have worked with school social workers to prevent gang violence. Desmond Patton is a Columbia University social work professor who says if the language can be decoded, triggers could be sent to social and antiviolence workers who reach out directly to youth. Patton conducted an "Internet banging study," interviewing current or former young gang members from some of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods. He asked what they see on social media, how they use it, how they believe it connects to violence in the neighborhood, and under what conditions they are responding to situations and posts they believe to be threatening.

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The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention Newsletter is prepared under Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Cooperative Agreement No. 2012–MU–FX–K009 with Development Services Group, Inc.

The views, opinions, and content of this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of OJJDP.