Safer Youth, Safer Minneapolis: Attorney General Holder, Mayor Rybak Celebrate Youth Violence Prevention Work
Results: numbers of youth involved in violent crime and guns down by half; numbers of youth in summer jobs and graduating on the rise
May 27, 2011 (MINNEAPOLIS) United States Attorney General Eric Holder and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, joined by United States Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, today celebrated the positive results of Minneapolis comprehensive Youth Violence Prevention initiative. The initiative, which began in 2008, is an ongoing, multi-year collaboration in 22 Minneapolis neighborhoods that treats youth violence as a public-health epidemic that requires a holistic, multi-faceted response.
"Minneapolis is a dramatically safer city today because youth, law enforcement and community have innovated groundbreaking ways to keep our youth safe and prevent youth violence before it starts," said Mayor Rybak.
Attorney General Holder observed that the "great strength" of Minneapolis approach is that it recognizes that violence among and directed toward young people is not only a public-safety issue its also a public- health issue. And it demands a public-health response."
The Youth Violence Prevention initiative began as a response to a spike in violent crime in Minneapolis in 2005-06 that data revealed was driven by violence by and against youth.
"Several years ago, in the wake of a terrible wave of violent crime that shocked our city, we realized that it was driven by one terrible factor: kids killing kids," Mayor Rybak explained. "It was clear that we couldn’t turn it around with law enforcement alone and we needed a different strategy, but we didn’t know what to do. So we started by grounding ourselves in hard data and reaching out to communities across the country.
"Today, we know exactly what to do. Treating youth violence as an epidemic to be cured, rather than as just crimes to be solved, has allowed us to make great progress."
That comprehensive, collaborative, public-health approach has led to safer youth and a safer community. Since 2006, the number of youth arrested for or suspected in violent crime has dropped 56%. In the same period, the number of incidents involving guns and youth has dropped 58%.
The decrease in youth violence has driven a sharp decline in overall crime rates in Minneapolis. In 2010, citywide violent crime in Minneapolis fell to a 28-year low. In addition, in 2011 so far, violent crime in Minneapolis has fallen 16% more compared to the same period in 2010.
Attorney General Holder said he is "excited about the progress that — here in Minneapolis — you’re helping to lead."
Minnesota’s United States Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken joined Attorney General Holder and Mayor Rybak at the Blueprint for Action Youth Violence Prevention Conference, co-sponsored by the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Foundation. Senator Klobuchar, a former Hennepin County Attorney, and Senator Franken — both of whom serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee with oversight of the Justice Department — also expressed their strong support of Minneapolis’ efforts.
The initiative is guided by the four goals of the initiatives Blueprint for Action, which are to: 1) connect every youth to a trusted adult; 2) intervene at the first sign that youth are at risk of violence; 3) restore youth who have gone down the wrong path; and 4) unlearn the culture of violence in the community.
"These four goals guide every step of our work," Mayor Rybak said. "We constantly evaluate ourselves against them and repeatedly return to them. While we are not yet perfect, the Blueprint has had a profoundly significant impact on making this city safer."
Comprehensive efforts inspired by the Blueprint’s goals have not only cut youth violence, they have led to greater numbers of high-quality summer jobs for youth, higher graduation rates in Minneapolis Public Schools and greater numbers of graduates attending college free of charge, among other positive results.
Attorney General Holder also said that the Blueprint, while uniquely tailored to Minneapolis, "represents precisely the kind of thinking that drives the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to address youth violence in cities and towns from coast to coast." He asked Mayor Rybak and conference participants to help the Justice Department "apply the lessons we’ve learned here in Minneapolis to metropolitan areas from New York to Los Angeles, and everywhere in between."
Mayor Rybak pledged his support in helping adapt Minneapolis’ experience to other communities. In the meantime, he said, the Blueprint "continues every day to guide our work" in Minneapolis.
Also participating in the conference were youth, community organizers and organizers, educators, faith leaders, public-health professionals and law-enforcement professionals, among others. The conference was organized as an opportunity for youth, community members and policy makers to assess results and challenges going forward — and above all, to listen to and learn from each other.
Minneapolis’ approach, said Attorney General Holder, "proves the wisdom of a collaborative, comprehensive strategy — built on community engagement, and focused on connecting young people with the right resources. The results of your efforts have been nothing short of remarkable."
Attorney General Holder pledged the support of the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice and himself personally in preventing youth violence. He concluded that doing so is "the single most consequential challenge we face in shaping our future. The progress of our nation — and the measure of its people — will be determined by the support we provide and the doors that we open for our children.
"This is much more than our professional obligation — it is our moral calling."
Selected results of the Blueprint for Action: Preventing Youth Violence in Minneapolis:
• Decrease in youth arrested for or suspected in violent crime, 2006-10: 56%
• Decrease in incidents involving guns and youth, 2006-10: 58%
• Decrease in firearm-related assault injuries of youth, 2006-10: 36%
Decrease in percent of Minneapolis 9 th graders who strongly agree that "illegal gang activity is a problem at this school": from 42% in 2007 to 28% in 2010
• Decrease in homicides of youth, 2006-09: 77%
• Decrease in curfew arrests, 2006-10: 57%
• Decrease in number of pregnancies per 1,000 youth aged 15-17, 2006-09: 36%
• Increase in number of youth annually in STEP-UP and other City of Minneapolis job programs, 2005-10: 44%
• Number of youth in STEP-UP and other City of Minneapolis job programs: 13,064 since 2005
• Increase in Minneapolis Public Schools high-school graduation rates: from 55% in 2005 to 73% in 2010
• Number of Minneapolis Public Schools graduates attending college free of charge under Minneapolis Promise: 1,648
Selection of Youth Violence Prevention initiatives in Minneapolis:
The Minneapolis Promise, an innovative cluster of coordinated efforts that eliminate barriers to college for Minneapolis students. The Minneapolis Promise provides young people with high-quality summer jobs, privately-funded College and Career Centers in every public high school that help them plan a vision for their future, and financial assistance to attend college.
• Streetreach, a partnership between the City and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to directly and personally engage at-risk youth in four neighborhoods who are not otherwise engaged in positive opportunities.
Bike Cops for Kids, which takes Minneapolis police officers who serve in Minneapolis Public Schools during the year and puts them on bikes in eight neighborhoods during the summer to continue build relationships with children and youth, and promote public safety by giving away free bike helmets and bikes.
The Minneapolis Youth Congress, an organization of 55 teens in 8 th through 12 th grade from neighborhoods across Minneapolis who collaborate with elected officials to create and influence public policies that positively affect local youth.
• The Juvenile Supervision Center, a partnership with Hennepin County that provides safe supervision and other needed services to youth who have been picked up for truancy, curfew or other low-level violations that do not require secure detention. The goal of the center is to halt a youth’s progress into the juvenile-justice system and increase connections to school and positive behavior.
• Speak Up Minneapolis, an anonymous tip line that allows youth to phone or text reports of potential violence including weapons in schools, parks, libraries or other locations.
• A protocol at two Minneapolis hospitals for youth victims of violence that comprehensively evaluates the social, economic, medical, chemical and legal risk factors that the youth faces and makes appropriate referrals for help to community-based agencies.
• The North 4 Project, an intensive supportive-employment program for 30 gang-involved youth in four neighborhoods that have been deeply affected by violence and the recession.
• B.U.I.L.D and the Gang Prevention Mentoring Project, both designed to strengthen and mentor youth who may be gang-affiliated and help them develop personal strengths, relationships and commitments to education and community.
• Community Power Against Violence, a media and mobilization campaign in, with and for communities experiencing youth violence.
A toolkit of youth violence prevention initiatives for youth, families, practitioners and community.
Published May. 27, 2011