outlines ways to prevent juvenile violence
Ida Lee Wootten
potential for youth violence in Virginia can be reduced dramatically
by standardizing intervention programs for students and juvenile
offenders and sharing information about the most effective services,
according to a statewide report released last month.
report was prepared by faculty in the Virginia Youth Violence Project
at the Curry School
of Education, who completed an assessment of violence prevention
programs statewide for the Center for Injury and Violence Prevention
in the Virginia Department of Health. The report calls for a systematic
and coordinated statewide effort to implement programs found effective
in reducing youth violence, such as mentoring, bullying-reduction
campaigns and conflict-resolution training.
U.Va. researchers found that although there are a variety of violence
prevention services and programs available throughout the state,
there is little shared information about the success of such efforts.
Even within state government, services in one department are often
unknown to others in different divisions, say the researchers in
the 130-page report titled, "Youth Violence Prevention in Virginia:
A Needs Assessment."
increase knowledge, the researchers propose regular meetings of
directors of programs addressing youth violence. Such meetings would
promote coordinated planning and joint program efforts, they say.
state could establish a central clearinghouse for planning and coordinating
youth violence-prevention efforts," said Dewey G. Cornell,
director of the Virginia Youth Violence Project. "There should
be efforts, for example, to create an inter-agency group linking
the Departments of Education, Criminal Justice Services, Juvenile
Justice, Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Substance Abuse Services
and Social Services together." Although there are numerous
programs statewide that seek to reduce youth violence, many such
efforts have no proven track record or firm evaluative procedures,
the researchers found. Programs appear to be chosen because of cost,
political popularity or philosophical appeal rather than documented
there are programs that have been found widely effective in reducing
the potential for youth violence. The researchers call for the adoption
of such programs, which include mentoring, bullying -- reduction
campaigns, conflict resolution and after-school supervision. The
report proposes implementing such programs at schools, in churches
or through private non-profit agencies such as the YMCA and the
Boys & Girls Clubs.
the most important message in the report is that there are effective
means of preventing or reducing youth violence, but such programs
must be held accountable for documenting their quality and effectiveness,"
the most clearly identifiable group of youth likely to commit violent
crimes are those who have been recognized by juvenile authorities
as delinquents, the report recommends implementing violence-prevention
programs for the thousands of youth incarcerated yearly in Virginia's
18 detention centers.
limited number of free copies of the report can be obtained by contacting
the Virginia Department of Health at (804) 225-4483. After that
supply runs out, copies of the report can be purchased for $10 from
the Virginia Youth Violence Project at 924-8929.
efforts to stop youth violence