Thursday, October 29, 2009

Youth Violence is Down 43%!

Guest post by the Hawthorne Hawkman. Image from

A public release from the city of Minneapolis came my way and I am re-posting it here. Our city has re-framed youth violence as a public health issue, and this has garnered an award from the National League of Cities.

And yes, that link points to a 2007 resolution authored by Don Samuels and Cam Gordon. I've heard Natalie Johnson Lee claim she was the one who laid the groundwork for this issue. To the extent that is true, I guess I'd like to leave my job for four years, and then come back and re-apply by saying that the achievements made in my absence really just happened because of the groundwork I laid years ago. Or maybe it's just that crime is down everywhere so nobody can claim credit right now. Until I get my job back, then everything good can be attributed to me again, thank you very much.

Without further pontification, here is the press release:

Minneapolis receives national recognition for youth violence prevention efforts

National League of Cities honors "Blueprint for Action" in new report

Oct. 14, 2009 (MINNEAPOLIS) The City of Minneapolis this week received national recognition for its "Blueprint for Action" plan that works to address the root causes of violence and significantly reduce youth violence in Minneapolis. In its report, The State of City Leadership, the National League of Cities applauded Minneapolis for its efforts and calls this program one of the nation's three most innovative city models for preventing youth violence.

The report also states that "Minneapolis has successfully reframed youth violence as a public health issue through an extensive process of planning and community engagement which has united and galvanized community leaders and residents around a broader vision of youth violence prevention."

"Reducing youth vilence requires a strategic, holistic and multi-faceted response," said Mayor R.T. Rybak. "This recognition is a testament to our efforts and the efforts of our partners in reducing youth violence in Minneapolis. But we can't stop here. We need to keep working on finding new and creative ways to educate children and their families on the importance of violence prevention."

"Government can't eliminate violence from our community on its own," said City Council Member Cam Gordon, Youth Violence Prevention Steering Committee member. "We need the great work of so many people in the community who help us surround our youth and their families with support, opportunity and hope. Thanks to the leadership and cooperation of more than 80 stakeholders, we are headed in the right direction."

In 2008, the Blueprint for Action was launched with the following goals: connect every youth with a trusted adult; intervene at the first sign that youth are at risk for violence; restore youth who have gone down the wrong path; and, unlearn the culture of violence in our community.

Since 2007, juvenile crime has declined by 29 percent throughout the City, and 37 percent since 2006, according to a "Blueprint for Action" report. What's more, in four of the five target neighborhoods, youth violence was down by an average of 38 percent since 2007 and 43 percent since 2006.

In addition to "Blueprint for Action," Mayor Rybak's Minneapolis Promise college-preparation intiiative, the City-County Commission to End Homelessness, and Minneapolis' Bridge Center for homeless youth, were also highlighted in the State of City Leadership report. The report was released in Boston at the 2009 National Summit on Your City's Families and is avalaible at

The National League of Cities is the nation's oldest and largest organization devoted to strenghtening and promoting cities as centers of opporunity, leadership and governance. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns, and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.

(End press release, begin Hawkman commentary)

Let that sink in. Nineteen thousand cities, and we're in the top three for such an innovative approach. I am impressed. I'll say that when I first heard of this idea presented at the state legislature earlier this year, I was skeptical. "This is a health issue? Seems more like a straight-up crime and safety issue to me," was pretty much my thought. Even now, I have a tough time wrapping my head around it. Perhaps it's a personal shortcoming of mine, but I place a higher priority on outright safety over this systematic approach.

But this much is clear: whether I thought this program would work or not, it has. Violent crime is down, and the kind of crime these tactics were meant to address is down significantly. Makes you proud to be from Minneapolis, doesn't it?


Anonymous said...

To put this in perspective, Chicago youth violence has skyrocketed in the last couple years and made national headlines many times. Good job mpls!

Low End Leroy said...

Yes... Good Job Minneapolis, and THANK YOU DON SAMUELS, City Council, the Mayor's Office, and MPD!

louie said...

The lowering of youth violence is something very pleasant to hear. I had my teens also involved in violence once but I didn’t want them involved in such horrifying situation again so I sent them in a teen boot camp and then into a boarding school so that they will be away from their troublesome friends and also so that they will be taught well and disciplined well.